The Irrational Fear of a Cheap, Effective drug

Words are very powerful. They can incite hatred and violence. They can provide reassurance and hope.  They can incite fear and dread. We have not heard many reassuring and hopeful ones this year, but maybe that is about to change. The truth is coming to light, and that is perhaps the most important issue at stake:  Truth. Public policy, affecting the lives of every person in society now and into the future, should be informed by truth.

Well here are some of those truths: COVID-19 is an extremely infectious virus that can make you very ill and might even kill you. It might also leave you with debility, pain, fatigue and seriously compromised health. It spreads rapidly in aged-care facilities with devastating outcomes.

Now here are some less palatable truths: Doctors who have successfully treated this virus have been dismissed as cranks who don’t follow “the science”. Worse, they have been denied access to the very drug that could save lives.

This last point needs to be stressed because the drug is hydroxycholoroquine – a cheap, effective, off-patent medication. Numerous papers from around the world — the number of positive appraisals grows almost by the day — are documenting its effectiveness against this virus. Used in conjunction with zinc and an antibiotic it has stopped the progress of the virus. Patients administered the drug early in the course of the infection exhibit less severe symptoms and regain their health more quickly.

Why the war against a medication any reasonable person might regard as a godsend?

On April 29, 2020, the Victorian government “restricted the sale or supply or use of the poison or controlled substance Hydroxychloroquine under section 55(2) of the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 for a period of twelve weeks.”

 Victoria’s DHHS website still carries this message (emphasis added):

There is no clinical evidence that hydroxychloroquine is effective prophylaxis against  coronavirus

Hydroxychloroquine is in short supply and should be prioritised for use in recognised           indications including autoimmune conditions and Q-fever endocarditis.

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) have advised pharmacists to refuse the dispensing of hydroxychloroquine unless it is for a recognised indication.

Let us look at the underlined assertions one by one.

# No clinical evidence?

Not so, says Dr Harvey Risch, professor of epidemiology at Yale School of Public Health.

# Hydroxychloroquine is in short supply.

Clive Palmer provided 30 million doses of Hydroxychloroquine to add to the Australian stockpile.

# PSA has advised pharmacists to refuse the dispensing of hydroxychloroquine.

So, should pharmacists enjoy the right to vet and veto what a doctor prescribes in consultation with his or her patient? Not according to the Australian Medical Association:

“Doctors are the only health professionals trained to fully assess a person, initiate further investigations, make a diagnosis, and understand the full range of clinically appropriate treatments for a given condition, including when to prescribe and, importantly, when not to prescribe medicines,” [AMA President, Dr Tony] Dr Bartone said.

“The AMA urges all governments to ensure that patient care is not fragmented, misdirected, or delayed by prescribing models that do not align with the AMA’s Standards.”

On August 3, news.com.au carried an item, Record Imports of dodgy COVID cures, which I cite as but one example of the official misinformation being fed to, and regurgitated by, unquestioning journalists:

Hydroxychloroquine can cause cardiac toxicity, which can lead to sudden heart attacks, irreversible eye damage, and severe depletion of blood sugar, which can lead to coma.

The media misrepresented this drug – at no time has it been recommended that people self-medicate. The treatment protocol has always been that it be made available only under medical supervision, as with any prescription medication.

The Victorian government has effectively prevented people with Coronavirus from accessing potentially life saving treatment. It has done so, not to put too fine a point on its conduct, by telling flat-out lies.

The Premier has told Victorians “there is no vaccine for this wildly infectious virus” so we will just have to stay at home, inside, isolated and masked until the virus goes away or we get a vaccine. 

There you have it: No treatment allowed. No vaccine available. Catastrophic social and economic shutdown.

Why the full-court press against hydroxychloroquine?

Here is a further fact to ponder: It is cheap and the new anti-virals are not cheap.

Remdesivir, on-patent and surrounded by much favourable publicity when first cast as the silver bullet against COVID-19, lists at US$3120 per treatment (US$390 per vial). Alas for manufacturer Gilead’s corporate bottom line,  its bally-hooed COVID-19 ‘remedy’ has not proven effective.

So a vaccine is needed and fast. Manufacturers in the US, UK and some other countries enjoy complete legal protection against litigation for vaccine damage.

Any fast-tracked vaccine which is not adequately tested for safety and efficacy prior to administration, and for which the manufacturer has full legal immunity against any damages claims, should be regarded with great concern. It should not be mandatory for citizens to have this vaccine, as Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in an unguardedly candid moment before backing away from it.

When you follow the developments of 2020, it seems that our greatest fear should be of the governments and bureaucracies that lie to us, confine us to our homes, shut down our businesses and destroy our livelihoods, tear our families apart, turn our nursing homes into institutions of incarceration for the elderly, mandate mask-wearing and threaten us with a vaccine that would never pass any ethics approval process.

It is time to start hearing the truth.

Dr X is a Melbourne GP with 36 years in practice. He has chosen anonymity because this is Victoria, where residents must now live according to the whim and wish of Premier Daniel Andrews.

7 thoughts on “The Irrational Fear of a Cheap, Effective drug

  • thasjaka says:

    We have here an article from Dr X supporting
    hydroxy…. but what if Dr B writes an article disagreeing with Dr X? Which man do we believe? I have no medical training and if both doctors sound authoritative whose advice do we follow?

  • Stephen Due says:

    The argument about short supply is only being used to curtail debate. The argument that there are no good randomised controlled trials supporting the proposed use of HCQ – and therefore using it is not medically justified – fails because the conclusion does not follow from the premise. Penicillin went into production and clinical use after a trial involving one policeman who died when the supply ran out. The further argument that what is not medically justified (in the sense indicated) should be banned (in the absence of other considerations) is an ethical argument unsupported in principle by science and potentially contravening the rights of patients and doctors in practice.
    Why should doctors not be free to prescribe HCQ based on their own judgement? The evidence is conveniently presented by Dr. Risch in a paper on Early Outpatient Treatment of Symptomatic High-Risk COVID-19 Patients, accepted for publication by the American Journal of Epidemiology 27 May 2020. There is currently a warning attached to the paper on the AJE website that reads: “The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Journal of Epidemiology or the other members of the editorial board”. The site also provides links to rebuttals of the paper and the replies to them provide by Dr, Risch.

  • deric davidson says:

    We all know why HCQ is so vehemently rejected – because of TDS which seems to have no psychiatric treatment! It has nothing to do with science and all to do with politics, Trump hatred (for which there is no rational basis) and the coming presidential election. Even peace treaties are ‘bad’ if Trump is involved. Any covid vaccine that has Trump’s imprimatur will be vigorously opposed – just watch. The left and their acolytes in the media are now certifiably insane.

  • ianl says:

    The HCQ situation may be even more scary:


    Doctor Christian Perronne, a Professor of Infectious and Tropical Diseases at the Faculty of Medicine Paris-Ile de France-Ouest on the Oxford clinical trial for HCQ:

    ” It is indeed the first time that I learn that we use hydroxychloroquine in amoebic dysentery, in addition to the dose [used in the Oxford trial] being super-toxic for humans.’

    ‘The classic treatment for colonic amoebiasis is based on a combination of hydroxyquinolines, tiliquinol and tilbroquinol, whose trade name is Intetrix.’

    ‘I think they confused hydroxychloroquine with hydroxyquinolines”

    So scary. One can only hope that this is exaggerated.

  • T B LYNCH says:

    Pharmacists from the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme raided my laboratory in 1969 demanding to inspect my bacteriology patient files. They were rowing their own canoe, and trying to persecute doctors that they considered were ordering too much of the cheapest antibiotic, chloromycetin. Now it is true that I have autopsied two patients who died from aplastic anemia caused by chloromycetin. I produced a policy statement from Sir William Refshauge, Director General of Health, stating that it was the policy of the Commonwealth Department of Health, not to tell doctors how to treat their patients. Sir William was a real doctor and had been the General in charge of Army medical services in WWII. The inspectors placed their authorities on my table. We glared at each other for 6 hours until they suddenly got up, told me I was in serious trouble, and took a prebooked flight back to Canberra. With a real doctor in charge, it turned out that the Inspectors were in trouble for exceeding their authority. Government doctors these days wouldn’t miss a beat if they swapped places with the old Soviet Union doctors. Just look at Queensland. On another occasion I used a fire hose to expel Medicare inspectors who wanted to Inspect my files to persecute doctors for ordering too many cholesterol tests. It turned out that they had invalid powers of entry, and I got off. Confronted with evil, defiance is right and proper. But is is very scary at the time, and depends on how unpredictable courts may view the situation. Just look at Victoria.

  • Stoneboat says:

    Yes, so do I
    .Well done TBL.

  • Searcher says:

    There are two interesting questions here.
    (1) does hydroxychloroquine have useful anti-viral activity, either in preventing infection, or in reducing the virulent activity of infection?
    (2) does hydroxychloroquine have useful anti-inflammatory action in established Wuhan virus infection?

    The anonymous Doctor X offers no careful or explicit scientific evidence about these questions. We may suppose that he would offer it if he knew it. That he doesn’t is telling. We may justly infer that he is a chattering propagandist, offering no more than pseudo-science. I find it regrettable that Quadrant should publish such a poor quality article, which leaves us none the wiser on the two interesting questions.

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