S'pore Medical Council stops doctor from promoting ivermectin as treatment for Covid-19

Ivermectin is a prescription medicine for the treatment of parasitic worm infections. PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - The Singapore Medical Council (SMC) has stopped a doctor from promoting or prescribing the drug ivermectin for the treatment or prevention of Covid-19.

The SMC is looking into the behaviour of Dr Yang Ing Woei, a general practice doctor, after it was alerted by the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Nov 25 last year.

An Interim Orders Committee (IOC) decided that "it was necessary for the protection of members of the public and in the public interest" to place an interim injunction on him for 18 months from March 9, or until its investigation is completed.

He has to comply with the terms of the injunction in order to continue practising.

Ivermectin is a prescription medicine for the treatment of parasitic worm infections. However, when Covid-19 swept the world in 2020, several groups, including some doctors, started touting it as a miracle cure against the coronavirus.

Not only has this drug not proven effective against Covid-19, it can cause serious side effects such as liver injury, sudden drop in blood pressure and severe skin rash.

The authorities here have intercepted more than 20,000 illegally imported ivermectin tablets.

The MOH told the SMC that Dr Yang had sent WhatsApp messages containing "unverified and misleading information" on the effectiveness of ivermectin to prevent or treat Covid-19 to a chat group with more than 200 members.

In a statement issued on March 14, the SMC said: "In particular, Dr Yang falsely claimed to have prescribed ivermectin to his patients who were suffering from Covid-19 (when he did not actually do so) and that these patients had thereafter exited the hospital's intensive care unit and high dependency unit within three days."

The IOC decided to allow Dr Yang to continue his practice while investigations are ongoing, subject to the following conditions:

- He cannot spread information against the effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccines, or sell, supply or promote the use of ivermectin, or promote any other drug, therapeutic product or vaccine not approved by the Health Sciences Authority to treat or prevent Covid-19.

- He is not allowed to do any of this on any website, social media platforms or closed messaging systems, and must remove any such posts where reasonably practicable.

Dr Yang can only "recommend, prescribe, supply or administer ivermectin to any patient" with the prior approval of a fully registered medical practitioner with a valid practising certificate. In such a case, he needs to keep a log with details that he must submit to the SMC within five calendar days.

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