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Chiropractors threaten to sue over Idaho law changes

A group of chiropractors from around the state has threatened to sue if Idaho changes its laws to keep them from prescribing in ways they have for years.

The Idaho Attorney General’s Office in May 2014 advised the state’s chiropractor board of a conflict between state law and rules of practice for chiropractors. The law says chiropractors cannot prescribe prescription-only drugs. But the state Board of Chiropractic Physicians’ rules say chiropractors can prescribe — and administer, distribute and sell — vitamins, minerals, enzymes and other substances in all forms.

Then in March 2015, state Rep. Fred Wood, R-Burley, the chairman of the House Health and Welfare Committee, introduced a resolution that put the board on notice to fix the conflict before the 2016 legislative session.

The board worked to develop proposed legal changes by last October.

The public descriptions of the proposal say it would keep chiropractors from prescribing supplements “in all forms” — they are given several ways by chiropractors in Idaho, including by injection — “to make sure everyone understands that clinical nutritional methods cannot exceed the scope of practice” allowed for Idaho chiropractors.

Are injectable nutrition substances ‘drugs’ or are they ‘supplements?’ And frankly we don’t have a real clear answer to that right now.

Joe Betz, president of the Idaho Association of Chiropractic Physicians

Whether those injections are legally considered drugs or supplements affects how they are regulated, and who can give them to patients or order them from pharmacies, said Joe Betz, a Treasure Valley chiropractor who heads the state chiropractic association.

But the proposal angered a group of chiropractors — Dennis Harper of Orofino, Jim Kranz and Jon Harmon of Boise, Jason West of Pocatello, Susan Aubuchon of Lewiston and Morgan Barkdull of Driggs. They hired lawyers, who sent a letter Nov. 10 to the Idaho Board of Chiropractic Physicians saying that the changes “are an unnecessary departure from the historical permitted scope of practice” and “will significantly impact the livelihood of our clients, and potentially, the livelihood of all other chiropractice physicians practicing in Idaho.”

The letter said the board authorized chiropractors in 2001 to use “vitamin and mineral IV/injection therapy” as well as chelation therapy, which sometimes is used in cases of lead and mercury poisoning.

The chiropractors threatened to sue the board for violating various laws including the Idaho Consumer Protection Act and federal antitrust laws if it supports the legal change.

Calls to the board chair and to lawyers representing chiropractors threatening litigation were not returned.

Audrey Dutton: 208-377-6448, @IDS_Audrey

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