Coronavirus

5 Million Doses Of Clive Palmer’s Hydroxychloroquine Stash Have Been Destroyed

The drug failed to receive TGA approval as a treatment for COVID.

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Clive Palmer’s five million doses of hydroxychloroquine have been sent for destruction after the drug failed to receive approval from the Therapeutic Goods Administration as a COVID-19 treatment.

Back in 2020, Clive Palmer claimed he would donate 32.9 million doses of the unapproved antimalarial drug to Australia in the hopes that it would prove effective for treating COVID-19, and would benefit the Australian public.

The Australian Government actually accepted approximately 22.4 million doses into the national COVID-19 stockpile, but told Palmer it would not accept any more donations of the drug after its effectiveness for COVID-19 treatment continued to be unproven.

However, a final shipment of approximately 5 million doses — weighing approximately 1,118kg — arrived at Melbourne Airport in August last year. The shipment has remained at Melbourne Airport since the day it arrived, despite being ready for collection from October 31, 2020, as Clive Palmer and the Commonwealth have battled it out over who will take responsibility for it.

“We understand the final shipment of donated products (1,000kg hydroxychloroquine sulfate) has now arrived at Melbourne airport,” the Palmer Foundation told the head of the TGA John Skerrit in a letter dated 18 August 2020, according to The Guardian. “The Palmer Foundation and Consolidated Pharmaceuticals has no ownership or interest in the property (it is the property of the commonwealth) [and] we expect your office … to facilitate the product being placed on the national stockpile.”

Later, on August 18, the TGA washed its hands of anything to do with the millions of doses at Melbourne Airport.

“As you are aware, almost three months ago, on 29 May 2020, the acting secretary of the health department wrote to the Palmer Foundation and thanked them for their generous donations of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to the national medical stockpile but indicated that given the levels of current supplies, the department (on behalf of the stockpile) did not wish to receive further supplies,” Skerritt replied to The Palmer Foundation. “In your letter today you mention that an additional 1000kg of product has arrived at Melbourne airport. As previously advised and agreed by you, we are unable to take possession of this material.”

Ultimately, after sitting unclaimed for eight months, the huge shipments was sent for destruction in April of this year, according to The Guardian.

The move feels particularly wasteful considering hydroxychloroquine has a number of legitimate, TGA-approved uses, including the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. However, The Guardian reports that this was due to regulations around medicines in Australia that prevented the freight company from selling or donating the drug to a worthy cause.

Meanwhile, the remaining 22 million doses of the drug — which has not been approved for COVID-19 — are still sitting unused in the national stockpile.

“The department has not deployed any of the hydroxychloroquine from the National Medical Stockpile as it has not been approved for use as a Covid-19 treatment in Australia by the TGA and there have not been any requests to utilise this in an approved clinical trial,” a Federal Government spokesperson told The Guardian.