Aussies warned not to go looking for COVID-19 medicines

According to the Australian Border Force, there has been an increase in the level of illegally imported substances believed to protect against COVID-19.

In light of this, NPS MedicineWise is warning Australians that there are no medicines that have been shown to protect you from, or treat, COVID-19 unless you are in intensive care.

NPS MedicineWise Medical Adviser and GP, Dr Anna Samecki says people should not ask for or try to obtain medicines for COVID-19.

“All medicines come with risks and taking medicines in the belief they will help prevent or treat COVID-19 can be downright dangerous.

“Also, obtaining medicines from the internet can add extra risks.

“of course, many websites selling medicines are legitimate businesses, but many others are not legitimate and are selling out-of-date, poor quality, contaminated or even fake medicines that put your health at risk,” says Dr Samecki.

Australians are directed to an NPS MedicineWise consumer COVID-19 information hub, the includes information about medicines investigated for use against COVID-19.

Material found in the hub, includes information about:

  • Hydroxychloroquine: a medicine used to treat malaria, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. At this stage, there is no reliable evidence that this medication can prevent or treat COVID-19, with some studies finding it could even make it worse.
  • Remdesivir: an antiviral medicine that can help some people in hospital with severe COVID-19 recover faster but does not help people with milder COVID-19.
  • Dexamethasone: a medicine that reduces inflammation and is used to treat asthma, arthritis and other diseases. It reduces the risk of dying for people in hospital with serious COVID-19 that need help to breathe. It does not help people with less severe COVID-19 and may even make things worse.
  • Ephedra, vitamin D and other complementary medicines: there are no medicines that have been found to be effective against COVID-19 outside of intensive care.

“Remember that all medicines, including complementary and OTC medicines can have side effects and may interact with other medicines you are taking,” warns Dr Samecki.

“This is why it is important to speak with your health professional (your doctor, pharmacist or nurse) before taking new medicines, including to prevent or treat COVID-19.

“They are best place to advise you on how to stay healthy.”

For more information on medicines and COVID-19, visit: nps.org.au/coronavirus#information-for-consumers.

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