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Doctor allegedly made misleading claims, promoted use of ivermectin to treat and prevent COVID-19

Doctor allegedly made misleading claims, promoted use of ivermectin to treat and prevent COVID-19

A box of Ivermectin. (Photo: Bernama)

SINGAPORE: A doctor who allegedly promoted the use of ivermectin to treat and prevent COVID-19 has been ordered not to disseminate or forward any information about the purported safety and efficacy of the drug to treat the coronavirus.

Dr Khoo Boo Kian was also ordered to remove any social media posts or messages sharing his views on using ivermectin to treat COVID-19, said the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) on Thursday (Mar 31).

The Ministry of Health (MOH) said in October last year that ivermectin is a prescription-only medicine registered in Singapore "specifically for the treatment of parasitic worm infections".

"It is not an anti-viral medicine and is not approved by the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) for preventing or treating COVID-19," it said then.

On Nov 25 last year, the SMC received information from MOH about Dr Khoo. Among other things, it was alleged that Dr Khoo sent WhatsApp messages containing “unverified and misleading information” on COVID-19 to a chat group with 206 participants.

In the messages, Dr Khoo allegedly made misleading claims on the efficacy of ivermectin in treating and preventing COVID-19, said the SMC, adding that he had also promoted the use of the drug for coronavirus treatment and prevention.

He also allegedly encouraged the chat group participants to order ivermectin over the Internet through an “unapproved source”, said the council.

RESTRICTIONS AND CONDITIONS

The case was referred to an Interim Orders Committee to determine if it was necessary for the protection of members of the public, or if it was in the public interest, to have Dr Khoo's medical registration suspended or made subject to conditions.

An independent complaints committee was appointed, and investigations are ongoing.

On Mar 28, the Interim Orders Committee subjected Dr Khoo's registration to conditions or restrictions for 18 months, or until the conclusion of proceedings against Dr Khoo.

He must not disseminate or forward any information or documents about the safety, efficacy and effectiveness of approved COVID-19 vaccines in Singapore, if the information is "contrary to generally accepted evidence" that supports the use of such vaccines.

He must also not spread information about the purported safety and efficacy of any drug, therapeutic product or vaccine in treating and preventing COVID-19, including ivermectin, if these agents are not approved by HSA or are required to be administered solely in a clinical trial.

Dr Khoo must not share information about the sale and supply of ivermectin.

The doctor must also not use websites, social media platforms or closed messaging systems to share any views on these matters.

He must also seek to remove any posts or messages, “to the extent that is reasonably practicable”, on websites, social media, closed messaging platforms, about such matters.

In addition, Dr Khoo must also not recommend, prescribe, supply or administer ivermectin or any other drug not approved by HSA to anyone for use to prevent or treat COVID-19.

He must also not give false or misleading information about having prescribed ivermectin or any other drug that is not approved by HSA for the treatment and prevention of COVID-19.

The doctor must also not provide information to suggest that he is able to sell or supply such drugs outside the context of an approved clinical trial.

"Dr Khoo must not recommend, prescribe, supply or administer ivermectin to any patient without the prior approval of a fully registered medical practitioner with a valid practising certificate, whose approval, medical council registration number and signature must be recorded electronically or in writing," said the SMC.

He must keep a log of all the patients he recommends, prescribes, supplies or administers ivermectin to. This log must include the details of the approving medical practitioner, and must be submitted to the SMC within five days.

Dr Khoo is also required to inform any organisation or person employing him for medical work that his registration is subject to the conditions, the council said.

SECOND DOCTOR GIVEN RESTRICTIONS

Dr Khoo is the second doctor in March to be given restrictions or conditions after allegedly making claims about the efficacy of ivermectin in treating and preventing COVID-19.

Dr Yang Ing Woei was also part of a chat group and allegedly made "misleading and untruthful claims" on the use of ivermectin for coronavirus patients.

He is accused of falsely claiming to have prescribed ivermectin to his patients who were suffering from COVID-19, when he did not actually do so, and the patients had then left the intensive care unit and high dependency unit within three days, said the council.

Investigations are ongoing into both Dr Khoo and Dr Yang’s cases, said the council, adding that an independent complaints committee has been appointed to look into them.

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Source: CNA/ng(mi)
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