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News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

RACGP warns Australians not to use hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19

Health Industry Hub | May 22, 2020 |

Pharma News: The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has urged Australians not to seek out or use hydroxychloroquine to “cure” or “prevent” the COVID-19 virus.

An Australian clinical trial is now underway to determine whether the drug can help prevent the COVID-19 virus. However, there is still insufficient evidence that hydroxychloroquine can be used to combat the pandemic.

Hydroxychloroquine is a medication used to prevent and treat malaria and is also used in the treatment of conditions including rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. A similar drug chloroquine is derived from the quinoline molecule and is also used to treat various types of malaria.

RACGP President Dr Harry Nespolon said that the drugs should not be used to assist in preventing or treating COVID-19.

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“It is positive news that this new Australian clinical trial featuring 2,000 frontline healthcare workers is now open for volunteers. It’s one of several trials underway but the evidence-base is simply not there to say that this drug can be used to prevent the COVID-19 virus.

“There is quite simply insufficient evidence that hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine can ‘cure’ COVID-19. So the drugs should not be provided to patients outside of a formal randomised clinical trial and I also strongly advise against acquiring these drugs on the dark web or anywhere else.

“When prescribing and using any drug we need to rely on scientific evidence and make careful determinations of whether these drugs or any other can help combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“We need to exercise extreme caution here. That is one of the reasons why the RACGP supported the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s (TGA) recent move to place tight new restrictions on who can write prescriptions for these drugs.

“Some studies have also indicated an elevated risk of serious adverse effects like cardiac arrest.”

“Before trying to source this drug consider this simple fact. Off-label use of hydroxychloroquine can have significant consequences for those who are normally prescribed the drug and really need it. If people rush out and acquire hydroxychloroquine patients may not be able access it due to inappropriate use reducing stock levels.

“Let me be 100% clear, we need to ensure there is stock available for those who actually need this drug right now.


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