Docs reiterate warning on hydroxychloroquine

confused health professional

The RACGP is once again urging Australians not to seek out or use hydroxychloroquine to “cure” or “prevent” the COVID-19 virus

The warning from the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners follows after Sky News host Rowan Dean argued over the weekend that doctors and patients should be free to decide whether to take hydroxychloroquine as a possible treatment for COVID-19.

In addition, Sydney-based federal MP Craig Kelly recently claimed that Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews could be criminally liable for blocking the use of the drug to treat the virus. 

The text of the post has since been updated to remove any reference to Mr Andrews, stating instead that “continuing to deny the right of medical professionals prescribing this drug to a patient” arguably constitutes conduct that in some states “has criminal penalties that carries [sic] severe penalties of up to 25 years’ imprisonment for individuals”.

Hydroxychloroquine is a medication used to prevent and treat malaria and is also used in the treatment of conditions including rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, explains the RACGP. A similar drug which is not marketed in Australia—chloroquine—is used to treat various types of malaria.

Recently, the National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce updated the strength of its recommendation against the use of the drug, stating definitively that “it should not be used as a treatment for anyone with COVID-19”. The Taskforce also recommends against the use of hydroxychloroquine for post-exposure prophylaxis.

Meanwhile the World Health Organization discontinued the Solidarity Trial’s hydroxychloroquine arm as interim results showed little or no benefit.

These drugs have risen to prominence during the COVID-19 pandemic following reports that billionaire Clive Palmer bought nearly 33 million doses of hydroxychloroquine while taking out full-page advertisements stating the drug could “wipe out the virus”. 

Meanwhile US President Donald Trump confirmed in May that he was taking hydroxychloroquine to “ward off” COVID-19, despite his public health officials warning it may be unsafe.

On Tuesday, RACGP Victorian Chair Dr Cameron Loy reminded Australian patients that the drug should not be used in preventing or treating the COVID-19 virus.

“The pandemic is causing a lot of anxiety and many people are looking for a ‘magic bullet’ that will keep us safe. There are several trials featuring this drug occurring across the globe, including an Australian clinical trial featuring 2,000 frontline healthcare workers,” said Dr Loy.

“However, the evidence base is simply not there to say that hydroxychloroquine can be used to prevent the COVID-19 virus or treat it. 

“The results of trials so far have proven inconclusive or found the drug to be ineffective as a treatment. It can also have severe and even deadly side effects if used inappropriately.”

Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine pose well-known serious risks to patients including cardiac toxicity -potentially leading to sudden heart attacks; irreversible eye damage; and severe depletion of blood sugar- potentially leading to coma, explains the TGA.

Dr Loy warned that sourcing the drug to treat or prevent COVID-19 could have disastrous consequences.

“Rowan Dean asked: ‘What do we have to lose if we embrace such treatments?’ That is an excellent question with a simple answer.

“In addition to the potential harms that can result from using the drug, off-label use of hydroxychloroquine can have significant consequences for patients who are normally prescribed the drug for various medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.

“If people rush out and acquire hydroxychloroquine patients may not be able access it due to inappropriate use reducing stock levels. It is vital that we have enough stock available for those who actually need this drug right now so please think about them.”

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia has consistently advised pharmacists to refuse dispensing of hydroxychloroquine outside of approved indications.

On 24 March it welcomed new restrictions on who can initiate therapy, to limit use of hydroxychloroquine to currently approved indications.

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  1. This has also been well covered by NPS Medidine Wise
    at: So, listen to the medical experts, not the journos and others seeking to garner publicity while ignoring the established facts!!

    • Peter Allen

      Dr Paul Kelly, our less than convincing CHO said from 5minutes into the Rowan Dean piece:
      “[…] the jury is pretty much out — it doesn’t work” (while also proclaiming its low toxicity!)

      Dr Kelly tell us this — why are there many trials ongoing, under the supervision of trained medical experts.
      We can get it, that the good doctor wants to discourage Mrs Melbourne from going to her local GP for a script for Plaquenil. Especially if she has prophylaxis in mind.

      People are concatenating such irresponsible use (bad) with controlled use (good, perhaps– the science truth will out.

    • Peter Allen

      Australian Doctor online group ( is pretty strong on this, GPs strongly feeling that there may be a place for HCQ.

      I posted:

      I think that Rowan has been questioning (strongly) what is the strongly
      held Conventional Wisdom. “it doesn’t work —the evidence is in—. No
      further work on it. Also it’s a poison”.

      Desperate diseases invoke heroic measures. You’re in intensive cate
      why wouldn’t you take a punt? Benefit:risk ratio is on your side.

      I’m glad to discover that at least here the forum is generally open minded. Become some of the reports give pause.

      Switzerland decided to stop using HCQ. Deaths rose. They reduced, deaths reduced a lot.
      The Henry Ford hospitals positive results (yes I have read the whole paper) could be due to EARLY intervention.

      We know that apparently similar trials give different results— because of non-identical methods.

      I do worry that some folk —who appear to be motivated —decry this,
      saying because it’s not perfectly double blind. True as far as it

      But which researcher would ignore strongly indicative anecdotes to motivate further investigatio

  2. Andrew

    What a load of rubbish. Look at the fake news Lancet journal anti HQ article which they had to retract.
    No money to be made in a cheap safe well tested product.
    This anti propaganda costs lives

  3. m everest

    PLEASE NOTE: This journal is the official publication of the Pharmaceutical Defence Ltd.
    There have been 70 medical studies on Hydroxychloroquine
    – 56 were positive
    – 46 were peer reviewed.
    Only 14 were negative or neutral
    -10 done in ICU with on ventilators (missing the Day 1-5 window where HCQ is very effective in conjunction with others drugs like Zinc and Azithromycin)
    – 4 studies used homicidal doses (2400mg of HCQ in 24 hours vs the Zelenko protocol which is 400mg per day for 5 days)
    The Lancet study was withdrawn as FRAUD.
    The W.H.O. used The Lancet study to urge world-wide ban of HCQ. It needs to be revoked.
    The studies are just not there to support the banning of this life saving Covid protocol anymore.
    The jury is now in. Time for big Pharma to stand aside. Here is the latest interview with Dr Zelenko. SEVEN countries are now successfully using his protocol.
    Over 2000 of his Covid patients cured as outpatients…no deaths.

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