House leaders want probe into âdetrimentalâ policies on use of potential COVID-19 drugs
A health worker arranges the medical tent at Go Belmonte Super Health Center and Lying-in Clinic in Brgy. Holy Spirit, Quezon City on April 14, 2021.
The STAR/Michael Varcas

House leaders want probe into ‘detrimental’ policies on use of potential COVID-19 drugs

Xave Gregorio (Philstar.com) - April 15, 2021 - 3:42pm

MANILA, Philippines — Two top House leaders are pushing for a congressional inquiry into the supposedly “detrimental” policies of the Department of Health (DOH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on drugs for the treatment of COVID-19.

In particular, House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco (Marinduque) and Deputy Speaker Bernadette Herrera-Dy (Bagong Henerasyon party-list) scored in House Resolution No. 1711 an FDA circular for being “arbitrary, bureaucratic and inhumane for causing unnecessary delays.”

The FDA circular in question sets guidelines for the registration of drug products under emergency use for COVID-19.

Informed by guidance from the Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, the June 2020 circular initially listed tocilizumab, lopinavir and ritonavir, chloroquine phosphate, and hydroxychloroquine sulfate as drugs under emergency use for COVID-19.

The FDA updated this circular the following month and listed tocilizumab as the only drug allowed for emergency use against COVID-19.

Ivermectin push

Herrera-Dy, who is not a doctor, is among a handful of lawmakers fervently pushing for the use of anti-parasitic drug ivermectin for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 despite the lack of evidence supporting their claims.

In the past days, Herrera-Dy has been on the offensive in the ivermectin battle, most recently convincing the police to cop out from its crackdown on buyers and users of the drug.

Ivermectin is only registered for human use as a topical cream in the Philippines, but oral formulations of the drug can be obtained from registered pharmacies compounding it upon the prescription of a doctor.

Any prescription of it for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19, however, is considered off-label use and is not endorsed by the DOH or the FDA.

A review by several medical groups in the country of six trials of Ivermectin showed that it did not significantly reduce the risk of death among patients with COVID-19 and did not significantly reduce time in the hospital.

Ivermectin is also not associated with a definite benefit in terms of other clinically important outcomes. There is also no significant difference in the rate of hospital discharge between patients who took the anti-parasitic drug and those who did not.

That said, dozens of clinical trials on the use of Ivermectin for the treatment of COVID-19 are still ongoing, which means the final verdict for ivermectin has yet to be handed down.

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