DOH: Distribution, promotion of Ivermectin violate law vs unregistered drugs

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DOH: Distribution, promotion of Ivermectin violate law vs unregistered drugs
Photo from Pixabay shows medicine tablets.
Pixabay via jarmoluk

MANILA, Philippines — Individuals who are giving away anti-parasitic drug Ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19 are violating the law which prohibits the distribution and promotion of unregistered medical products in the country, the Department of Health said Wednesday.

“The most important law that is being violated for this supposed dispensing of Ivermectin is Republic Act 9711 or the Food and Drug Administration Act of 2009,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said when asked about the liability of people who are distributing the cheap anti-parasitic drug to treat COVID-19.

“Specific to that law is that we cannot let the public use unregistered drugs,” she added.

RA 9711 states the “manufacture, importation, exportation, sale, offering for sale, distribution, transfer, non-consumer use, promotion, advertising, or sponsorship of any health product that is adulterated, unregistered or misbranded” is prohibited.

Those who will violate the law may face imprisonment ranging from one year but not more than 10 years or a fine of ranging from P50,000 to 5 million.

Rep. Mike Defensor (Anakalusugan party-list) said his office will distribute “human-grade” Ivermectin to residents of Quezon City despite thin scientific evidence on its efficacy. He said in an interview with ABS-CBN Channel that he has coordinated with a compounding laboratory to make the drug.

The Food and Drug Administration said the only registered oral and intravenous preparations of Ivermectin are veterinary products, and are only approved for use to prevent heartworm disease and treat internal and external parasites.

What is currently available in the country for human use is in topical formulation, which is used to treat head lice and skin conditions such as rosacea.

The DOH does not recommend the use of Ivermectin for COVID-19 treatment. The World Health Organization said the drug must not be used “in patients with COVID-19 except in the context of a clinical trial.” Even Merck, the company behind Ivermectin, said there is no scientific basis in using the drug as a treatment for COVID-19.

“We would like to advise the public that if you take an unregistered drug, the government cannot assure that this can be safe for you and protect you from that specific disease,” Vergeire said in a mix of English and Filipino.

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