Veteran Qld GP gave bodybuilders breast cancer drug
A veteran Brisbane doctor who inappropriately prescribed hormone drugs to nine bodybuilder patients who wanted to increase testosterone or reduce the side effects of illegal anabolic steroids they were taking, has been allowed to continue practising medicine.
Craig Keith McCombe, a triathlete and GP who practises from Redlands General Practice on Delancey St, Ormiston, in Brisbane's southeastern suburbs, has been reprimanded and his actions have been found to have amounted to professional misconduct by the professional watchdog, the Medical Board of Australia.
A decision published by the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal last Monday, reveals that Dr McCombe admitted prescribing nine patients drugs over a period of 7.5 years.
The drugs he prescribed - Arimidex and Tamoxifen - were intended to be used by women fighting breast cancer but were known to be taken by bodybuilders to reduce the side effects of anabolic steroids or to inhibit oestrogen and increase testosterone.
The patients were bodybuilders and most were "illegally using illegally-obtained muscle enhancing agents" when they consulted Dr McCombe, the Tribunal heard.
Most of the inappropriate prescribing occurred between 2016 and 2018, the decision states.
He is not alleged to have actually harmed his patients.
Dr McCombe, who has been registered as a doctor for 25 years according to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), submitted that he was trying to help the bodybuilding patients abstain from the drugs "by alleviating symptoms using pharmacological intervention".
Dr McCombe prescribed the drugs "for more than 12 months without a reduction in dosage", the tribunal was told.
Dr McCombe's curriculum vitae did not demonstrate sufficient expertise in devising competent withdrawal regimes, according to a report by Associate Professor Alistair Vickery, who was hired to AHPRA to give an expert opinion on Dr McCombe's prescribing practices.
Although Dr McCombe did try to discourage some of his bodybuilding patients from taking steroids, the tribunal decision states.
The Medical Board of Australia unsuccessfully argued Dr McCombe should be suspended for six months in order to protect the public.
The tribunal, which was made up of Judicial Member John Robertson and three others, ruled that a suspension was not necessary because Dr McCombe had shown remorse and insight into his misbehaviour.
In December 2018 when the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency was investigating his prescribing to just two patients, Dr McCombe made what the tribunal regarded as "full and frank admissions of misconduct" by stating that he "engaged in inappropriate prescribing practices over a period of years, but prescribing medications to patients for bodybuilding purposes".
Dr McCombe has completed courses on appropriate prescribing, with a specific focus on steroid prescribing, the tribunal noted.
He has also been banned from prescribing, possessing, supplying or administering androgenic anabolic steroids, human growth hormone, clomifene and human chorionic gonadotropin, of any other performance enhancing drugs or anti-estrogenic drugs or those which are selective oestrogen receptor modulators.
This condition will be reviewed in a year.
AHPRA will also seek reports from a senior doctor at the Redlands Practice every three months on Dr McCombe's work.
The Redlands General Practice clinic Facebook site states that Dr McComb "is active in the local triathlon community and takes a special interest in training the next generation of GP's through his involvement in medical education and training."
The doctor has worked in the Redlands since 2001 and has an interest in all aspects of General Practice, the Facebook site states.
Originally published as GP banned from prescribing hormone drugs to bodybuilders