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Australia Australians are buying hydroxychloroquine after Trump called it a 'very powerful' treatment for COVID-19 – a claim which remains unproven

05:41  26 march  2020
05:41  26 march  2020 Source:   businessinsider.com.au

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President Donald Trump has repeatedly touted two drugs as potential treatments for the new The drugs — chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine — are often used for the prevention and treatment of And this has created a run on the supply." "This is a very powerful medication that needs to be

After Trump Hyped Chloroquine as a Covid - 19 Cure, a Man Died Trying to Self-Medicate With a Version of the Chemical Used to Clean Fish Three times last week, Donald Trump defied expert advice and touted anecdotal evidence that the anti-malaria drug chloroquine might cure Covid - 19 .

Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: US President Donald Trump has made false claims about the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19. (Photo by Jabin Botsford, The Washington Post via Getty Images) US President Donald Trump has made false claims about the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19. (Photo by Jabin Botsford, The Washington Post via Getty Images) In an alarming turn of events, Australians are ignoring health warnings and buying up hydroxychloroquine, a chemical used to treat malaria, rheumatic arthritis and some autoimmune diseases, under the belief it may be an effective treatment for COVID-19.

Just last week, US President Trump touted it as a "very powerful" treatment of the coronavirus, describing it as “one of the biggest game-changers in the history of medicine”, and falsely claimed it was approved by US regulator the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for that express purpose.

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Trump on using unproven and dangerous drugs for coronavirus: "Why should we be testing it in a test tube for a year and a half when we have thousands of people Sunday’s briefing was not the first time Trump has peddled false or unproven claims about chloroquine’s effectiveness in treating COVID - 19 .

One American man, reportedly confident in the President's claims, died shortly after consuming an aquarium cleaner containing the chemical.

Now Australians worryingly appear to be taking the President's advice, with local prescriptions for the drug tripling last week, according to data supplied to Business Insider Australia by MedAdvisor, the platform which processes orders at large pharmacy chains like TerryWhite Chemists, Bloms and Amcal.

"Over the last six months prescriptions for hydroxychloroquine has been trending at a fairly consistent level, and then all of a sudden over the last week we've seen this massive spike," CEO Robert Read told Business Insider Australia.

"The Government is concerned, as are we, that a lot of people are using it now on the suggestion that it may have a role to play [against COVID-19] before it's been properly tested."

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President Donald Trump claimed during a White House briefing on Thursday that the Food and Drug Administration had approved the " very powerful " drug chloroquine to treat coronavirus.

Shortly after Trump ’s initial conversations with Ellison, he convened several top health officials and aides in an Oval Office meeting last week to discuss On Tuesday, the state of New York is scheduled to begin testing chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine for Covid - 19 . Trump ’s enthusiasm about the

a screenshot of a cell phone: Hydroxychloroquine prescriptions have spiked in the last week. (MedAdvisor) Hydroxychloroquine prescriptions have spiked in the last week. (MedAdvisor) In total, more than 11,000 Australians were prescribed the medication by some 6,600 GPs and specialist doctors in a single week.

The huge rise in demand is despite the fact that there is little evidence at this point it can successfully treat COVID-19.

"I've learned that a huge proportion of those scripts are being used off-label, which means being used for purposes other than that for which the medication was originally approved," Read said.

"People playing around with medicine they have at home or that they've heard about is dangerous and a slippery slope, I'd suggest."

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Certainly, with a firm travel ban in place, few Australians have any need for malaria medication right now. It begs the question: why are some Australian doctors then knowingly prescribing it to be misused?

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Donald Trump last week falsely claimed anti-malaria medication, chloroquine, had been approved by the Food and Drug Administration as treatment for COVID - 19 . It is unclear if the pair in the US took the medication specifically to fend off coronavirus but health authorities in the country believe that to be

Australian citizens returning home from overseas have been left dumbfounded by the 'relaxed' Return travellers must stay in quarantine for two weeks in a desperate attempt to control COVID - 19 'I was very surprised we didn't have to get a temperature check or anything like that,' she told Daily Mail

"Doctors are people, you know, and they have their own concerns and their own challenges and a small proportion of them might be saying, 'well, maybe there is something in this' and then are potentially prescribing it inappropriately," Read said.

"People are in a panic situation and, and looking for anything to help manage through that so you never know what shortcuts they'll take."

While you would hope no Australian medical practitioners were taking cues from a real estate mogul turned commander-in-chief, the medication is indeed being trialled in Australia. The results, however, are not in – while a small trial in China showed no evidence it helped treat COVID-19 at all.

At any rate, self-medicating is fraught with danger, especially at a time when hospitals are already facing unprecedented strain. Indeed, the sudden surge of Australians taking the medication off-label has worried Australia's own regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, which issued a warning this week against using it against the coronavirus.

"Given the limited evidence for effect against COVID-19, as well as the risk of significant adverse effects, the TGA strongly discourages the use of hydroxychloroquine outside of its current indications at this time other than in a clinical trial setting or in a controlled environment in the treatment of severely ill patients in hospital," it wrote in a statement, further restricting doctors' ability to prescribe it.

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Hydroxychloroquine has not been approved to treat coronavirus, and the nation's top infectious One of the drugs President Trump has touted as a potential "game changer" to treat COVID - 19 is a to continue their course of treatment ." The foundation noted that researchers in China and France

President Trump , again, said the FDA had approved malaria drug chloroquine for treatment of Covid - 19 , a claim the Ltd, Mylan NV and Novartis AG’s Sandoz unit manufacture chloroquine, also called Other drugmakers are also developing experimental treatments and vaccines for Covid - 19

Read echoed the same warning.

"As with all potential treatments for COVID-19, there's going to be clinical trials to actually work out what the effects are because there are lots of individual impacts in the way medicines handled in the body," Read said.

Our position is that people should be doing only what's approved and that's the safest way to be."

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