Dr. Bernard Conlon of Murupara imported thousands of ivermectin pills but they were seized by Medsafe.  He is pictured at a rally in Murupara in November 2021.

Tony Wall

Dr. Bernard Conlon of Murupara imported thousands of ivermectin pills but they were seized by Medsafe. He is pictured at a rally in Murupara in November 2021.

A controversial GP in Murupara will not get the stockpile of ivermectin he imported to treat Covid-19 after losing an appeal against the seizure of the pills by Medsafe.

Between September 15 and October 19 last year, Dr Bernard Conlon imported 14,300 ivermectin tablets from Indian companies, split into nine separate shipments.

The drugs were intercepted by customs at the border, tested by the Crown Research Institute ESR, and some were found to be contaminated.

Conlon sued Medsafe in March asking for the drugs to be returned, but lost the case and later appealed the court’s decision.

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But that too was overruled, in a reserved judgment by Judge Robert Spear delivered to the Rotorua District Court on July 12.

The judge said Conlon had “no reasonable excuse for importing the drug.”

“Dr. Conlon was unable or unwilling to provide details of a patient to whom he intended to supply the ivermectin he had imported,” Judge Spear said in his decision.

“Dr Conlon accepts that his intention was to store the drug so that he would have a ready supply of the drug available to be administered to any patient who presented to him with symptoms of Covid-19 and whom he considered would benefit from this drug. .”

Ivermectin is not approved for use against Covid-19, and Medsafe – the country’s drug safety regulator – said there was no clear evidence it was effective for treat or prevent the virus, and could instead cause serious harm.

Conlon's attorney, Sue Gray, argued that he

Conlon’s attorney, Sue Gray, maintained that he “always intended to test everything”, but the seizure made it impossible.

Conlon’s lawyer, Outdoors & Freedom Party co-leader and Covid-19 vaccine mandate activist Sue Gray argued during a hearing in Tauranga District Court in March that Conlon still had intended to test the products himself before prescribing them.

She said it was “always intended to have everything tested whether or not it was taken by Medsafe.”

“The seizure meant it was impossible for him to do any tests,” she said.

Gray is under investigation by the New Zealand Law Society regarding her activities regarding allegations she made during the pandemic.

Gray said Medsafe’s seizure of the drugs was “an impermissible attempt by the regulator to overreach” and that under the Medicines Regulation Act 1984 “if he had a reasonable excuse he would not ‘there was no reason to seize the drugs and there is no reason why the court cannot release them’.

She also said the antiparasitic drug Ivermectin was safe and “has been used for decades, unlike so many other drugs available.”

Dr Bernard Conlon is a long-time general practitioner at Murupara Medical Center.

Tom Lee / Stuff

Dr Bernard Conlon is a long-time general practitioner at Murupara Medical Center.

However, Medsafe lawyer Sam McMullan said a key part of the law was the requirement for doctors to have a clearly identifiable patient for any such drug.

“He had to make it clear that he had a specific, identifiable patient in mind. [for Ivermectin],” he said.

“It is not for a medical professional to stockpile drugs for the purpose of treating future patients.”

In his July 12 ruling, Justice Spear said Dr. Conlon was “prohibited from prescribing or administering this new drug under the circumstances that applied at the time he imported it.”

“That being so, he had no reasonable excuse to import the drug.”

Conlon was suspended from practicing medicine by the Medical Council of New Zealand in February this year, but his license was temporarily renewed on May 20.

His license will expire again on August 31 and, depending on the outcome of an investigation into his conduct by the Professional Conduct Committee, may or may not be renewed.

Conlon, a long-serving and highly respected GP, is being investigated over his comments about Covid-19 vaccinations and his refusal to get vaccinated himself.

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