Liberal backbencher Craig Kelly has gone on an online rant about anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration has strongly discouraged the used of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 unless the patient is part of a clinical trial.
But that hasn’t stopped the Member for Hughes in Sydney’s south spending the early hours of Monday morning posting about the drug spruiked by US President Donald Trump during the coronavirus pandemic.
In one post at 1.06am, Mr Kelly wrote: “COULD THE VICTORIAN PREMIER (and others) FACE 25 YEARS IN JAIL FOR CONTINUING TO BAN HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE?”
Quoting new workplace manslaughter laws that came into effect on July 1, Mr Kelly wrote that with the current international evidence available, “continuing to ban this drug is negligent”.
“It falls below the standard of care that would been taken by a reasonable person – and creates a high risk or death.
“Every office holder in Victoria that continues to ban the use of hydroxychloroquine could be risking 25 years in jail under the states new laws.
“This is no joke. Australian lives should not be a risk because of Trump Derangement Sydndrome.
“If an Australian doctor thinks that their patient with COVID could benefit from hydroxychloroquine, they must be able to prescribe the drug.”
Mr Kelly went on to post two articles from medical professors – one active and one retired – who wrote that hydroxychloroquine led to a 50 per cent reduction in deaths.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese condemned the posts while speaking in Sydney on Monday.
“I was shocked by them, that any member of parliament would be so irresponsible at a time where Victorians are doing it tough,” Mr Albanese said.
“You can’t have the national leadership of the Coalition Government saying one thing and the backbench members, whether they be Victorian backbench members or NSW members like Craig Kelly, making this sort of irresponsible, outrageous comments that they have made on social media and in other forms.”
Opposition health spokesman Chris Bowen said the comments were dangerous.
“There are enough conspiracy theories already circulating,” he said.
“Just to remind you what the Therapeutic Goods Administration last said about hydroxychloroquine, they said: ‘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’.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison declined to be drawn on this issue speaking to reporters Monday afternoon.
“I’m not going to get onto what people talk about on Facebook on a day like this,” he said.
Acting chief medical officer Paul Kelly said hydroxychloroquine was effective for malaria prevention but said “it doesn’t work” for COVID.