The following from Senator Malcolm Roberts
Thank you Senator Roberts for continuing to ask the real questions.
Senator ROBERTS: My question is to Senator Gallagher, the Minister representing the Minister for Health and Aged Care. Minister, I understand that the TGA is conducting a review of their ban on prescribing ivermectin for COVID. Can the minister confirm this review is underway, state the return date, and advise us of the current advice to medical professionals on the use of ivermectin for COVID-19?
Senator GALLAGHER (Australian Capital Territory—Minister for the Public Service, Minister for Finance, Minister for Women, Manager of Government Business in the Senate and Vice-President of the Executive Council) (14:29): I thank Senator Roberts for the question. I understand the TGA received an application from a doctor to amend the Poisons Standard in relation to ivermectin. I think that kicks off an automatic process. The application is to remove those restrictions that were placed on ivermectin when it began being prescribed to treat COVID-19. So the application is to enable GPs to prescribe it. I think that kicks off a process which is automatic in the TGA. The application is currently open for public consultation until the end of this month. Then it will be discussed by the ACMS at their next meeting on 9 November. An interim decision is expected by February 2023 and a final decision later in 2023. In terms of advice, whilst this process is underway separately there hasn’t been any change to the advice from the TGA that led them to put those restrictions on ivermectin as a prescription for COVID-19. That hasn’t changed.
The PRESIDENT: Senator Roberts, first supplementary question.
Senator ROBERTS (Queensland) (14:31): On 31 August this year, the Brazilian University of Sao Paulo published a peer reviewed paper that showed regular use of ivermectin as a prophylaxis for COVID-19 lead to a 92 per cent reduction in COVID-19 mortality rates amongst their sample of 88,000 subjects. A 92 per cent reduction in mortality. Minister, how much more proof does this government need to overturn the ban on ivermectin today and stop costing lives?
Senator GALLAGHER (Australian Capital Territory—Minister for the Public Service, Minister for Finance, Minister for Women, Manager of Government Business in the Senate and Vice-President of the Executive Council) (14:31): I have full trust and faith in the processes that the TGA implement, in terms of making advice and recommendations, and, in this case, in placing restrictions on the use of ivermectin. There is a range of academic research, and not all of it would be putting the case as you put it. I’ve seen other studies that have been done that show there is no clinical benefit from using ivermectin. That is not unusual with some of these trials; it isn’t unusual to have a significant difference of opinion.
From my point of view, the TGA has served us very well through this pandemic. They have provided very good advice. Their processes are rigorous and thorough. This process that’s now underway will, I’m sure, look at the issues that have been raised by this doctor, but, as far as I can see, there’s no reason to change. (Time expired)
The PRESIDENT: Senator Roberts, second supplementary question.
Senator ROBERTS (Queensland) (14:32): Whether separate from or part of a royal commission, will you conduct an enquiry into the failure of medical advice on ivermectin and, specifically, on who made the decision to ban ivermectin and who is responsible for the harm that came from the decision? When will you apologise to the politicians and medical professionals who were right all along?
Senator GALLAGHER (Australian Capital Territory—Minister for the Public Service, Minister for Finance, Minister for Women, Manager of Government Business in the Senate and Vice-President of the Executive Council) (14:33): We have a fundamental disagreement here. I don’t accept the position you are putting here, Senator Roberts. I understand you have a particular view on this, but I believe that the Therapeutic Goods Administration have operated very well during this pandemic. The Prime Minister has made it clear that, at the right time—when we are through the pandemic—we will definitely have a review of some sort looking at our response to the pandemic.
But I do not accept the proposition that you are putting about the use of ivermectin. The evidence that’s before the TGA is that there did need to be restrictions placed on it. It’s not the only drug where there are restrictions placed. There are other medicines that cannot be prescribed by GPs, or they have to go through a process. Based on the information the TGA has provided, they see good reason to put those restrictions. That other process, which I spoke of in the first answer, will report back on those dates that I’ve outlined.