Medicine

14 May 2020

Senator GRIFF (South Australia) (12:23): I move:

That the Senate—

(a) notes:

   (i) the COVID 19 pandemic sweeping the world has placed significant strain on health care systems around the world,

   (ii) the pandemic has also led to the promotion of a number of medically unproven therapies and in some cases dangerous medical advice,

   (iii) the specific promotion of the use of anti-rheumatic drug hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 by both the US President and Clive Palmer, where to date there has been little evidence of its effectiveness against the virus and significant evidence of severe side effects and increased risk of death at higher doses,

   (iv) the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners has warned against viewing hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19, and

   (v) a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine found the drug did not offer any protection against COVID-19, either alone or given in combination with an antibiotic;

(b) acknowledges that Australians with rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and other painful inflammatory conditions are struggling to fill prescriptions for hydroxychloroquine because the promotion of the drug as a "cure" for COVID-19 has led to supply shortages leaving

(c) recognises:

   (i) there has been a surge in hydroxychloroquine imports since January with more than 6000 tablets of the prescription-only drug seized, and

   (ii) the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has warned that hydroxychloroquine poses 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); and

(d) calls on the Federal Government to ensure that the off-label prescription of hydroxychloroquine is strictly monitored by the TGA.

Question agreed to.

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