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Billionaire Clive Palmer says he'll fund a malaria drug he believes could help fight coronavirus

Photo: Clive taps deep pockets to fight virus
Billionaire and former federal MP Clive Palmer says he'll fund a new stockpile of a malaria drug he believes could help fight coronavirus.

Billionaire Clive Palmer has promised to pay for more than one million courses of a malaria drug that could help fight coronavirus, and doesn't mind if he ends up wasting millions.

The former federal MP says he's happy to lose his money, but he believes hydroxychloroquine could help prevent infections, or reduce the severity of illness in those who get the virus.

Mr Palmer has promised to fund the manufacture or acquisition of the courses, and has appointed Brisbane pharmacist Jeremy Sheridan to "lead the effort to oversee the large-scale manufacturing of the drug in Australia".
News Corp has reported that a small number of Australian coronavirus patients have been successfully medicated with drugs including hydroxychloroquine and the HIV medication Kaletra.

The World Health Organisation last week said it would study the drug's effectiveness, and US President Donald Trump has been touting its possible benefits, with studies underway in America and in Europe.

Mr Sheridan said Australia needed to act fast to ensure it has enough of the drug.

"While the clinical trials in Australia in 50 hospitals may take four to five months to complete, it is important that arrangements for the large-scale manufacture or acquisition of hydroxychloroquine proceed quickly," he said in a statement.

"We cannot wait. To delay now could cost Australian lives in the coming months. We cannot wait to start the process of large-scale acquisition of the drug."

Mr Palmer says he wants to ensure all Australians have access to the drug as soon as possible, and he's willing to spend tens of millions of dollars to make sure it's available.

He's vowed to donate the medication to Australia's national drug stockpile, so people can have access regardless of their financial circumstances.

"We are proceeding as fast as we can to initiate the manufacturing process in Australia," the former MP said.

"I will spend whatever it takes."

He said he was willing to lose the cash he's promised if the drug does not turn out to be as effective as he hopes.

"If we are wrong, I lose some money but if we are right we may save the lives of thousands of our citizens. Australia must move now with urgency."

AAP has sought comment from Mr Sheridan about what experience he has in securing the large-scale supply of pharmaceutical products, and how he will execute Mr Palmer's plan.

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