Like most of us on the wrong side of a half-century, I’ve got “me pills” to take. Not many and nothing particularly serious, but they make life a lot easier (although apparently no-one has yet developed a pill for making a symphony of groaning noises when getting off the couch). One of them is a bit of a pharmaceutical curiosity: developed and prescribed in somewhat heavier doses for a very different condition, in small doses it’s a marvellously effective treatment for a minor ailment.

Many drugs have multiple uses, some of which may either not be what the drug was even developed for or what it is officially prescribed for. Viagra, for instance, was developed as an angina treatment; while it turned out to be pretty pants as an angina treatment, it did have a notable “side-effect” that has, in fact, become its almost sole use. Sulfasalazine is used for not just rheumatoid arthritis but also inflammatory bowel disease.

Prescribing medications in such a way has previously been understood to be on the judgement of the prescribing doctor, depending on their patient’s symptoms.

Not any more, in Australia.

In another example of the stunning bureaucratic overreach that has come to define the Covid era, faceless bureaucrats have ruled that they know better what is good for you than your own doctor.

The TGA used its regulatory muscle to prevent doctors at the COVID-19 pandemic’s coalface from prescribing ivermectin (IVM), the one therapy available that is safe, cheap and which reduces mortality in the order of 60 per cent. This poorly conceived action threatens the high standards of medical practise we have achieved in Australia, and the credibility of the administrative structure within which medicine operates.

Previously, Health Minister Greg Hunt had written to a GP prescribing ivermectin, confirming that he was aware of off-label prescribing of the drug as a treatment for Covid-19, and that they were fully within their rights. “The practice of prescribing registered medicines outside of their approved indications is not regulated or controlled by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), it is at the discretion of the prescribing physician.”

Well, now the TGA’s bureaucrats have overruled not just doctors but the Health Minister.

The immediate consequence of the TGA Notice means patients contracting COVID-19 are left to hear, “Sorry, no treatment for COVID-19 is legally available. Just go to hospital when you get very sick.” In the longer term it means that bureaucrats can change the way medicine is practised for whatever reason without review by, or discussion with, the medical community. It is important for Australians to consider two issues that follow the TGA’s decision: first, it adds risk to those exposed to COVID-19, putting additional pressures on health-care facilities; second, it drives a wedge into the fault lines that have appeared in medical practise during the course of the COVID-19 saga.

The aim in banning ivermectin prescription for Covid-19 is purely political. Ivermectin is not dangerous in correctly-prescribed doses: over four billion doses have been safely administered since its development 40 years ago. Its efficacy against Covid may be in dispute, but its safety is not. The Borody regime which uses ivermectin to treat Covid specifically prescribes low doses.

So, at the very worst, prescribing ivermectin for Covid is useless. The hysterical media claims of “overdosing on horse medicine” have been exposed as yet more of the fake news so common in the pandemic.

The low-dose Borody regime also gives the lie to the TGA’s claim of “toxicity due to dosage determined by social media”. If anything, the TGA’s unwanted interference is likely to drive more people to consult potentially unsafe social media advice than their doctors.

But the real reason for the ban is eventually given away:

“It may interfere with the vaccination programme”. What an extraordinary statement!

The reason for “vaccine hesitancy” has nothing to do with IVM use. Doctors promote IVM as complementing the vaccine programme.

Quadrant

The real reason for vaccine hesitancy, apart from a small fringe of hardcore anti-vaxxers, is that a great many people are wary of a radical new type of vaccine, and leery of a bullying public health bureaucracy and a greedy, unscrupulous pharmaceutical industry.

The first may not be fully justified, but who can deny the latter?

The TGA is doing nothing but proving the suspicions of the hesitant, with its extraordinary, indefensible intervention.

The fact that ivermectin is available as a cheap generic (i.e. less profitable) drug, while the vaccine rollout is pouring billions into big pharma’s pockets, does nothing to allay suspicions that the TGA is running a sleazy bureaucratic protection racket.

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Faceless Bureaucrats Come Between You and Your Doctor
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Lushington D. Brady

Punk rock philosopher. Liberalist contrarian. Grumpy old bastard. I grew up in a generational-Labor-voting family. I kept the faith long after the political left had abandoned it. In last decade or...