Duterte orders clinical trial for ivermectin as COVID-19 treatment

Christian Deiparine - Philstar.com
Duterte orders clinical trial for ivermectin as COVID-19 treatment
This photo taken on April 6, 2021 shows a man wearing personal protective equipment walking into a makeshift ward built for COVID-19 patients at a hospital in Manila. More contagious variants of the coronavirus have been blamed for a record surge in infections in Metro Manila that has overwhelmed hospitals and sent the national capital region into lockdown.
AFP / Jam Sta. Rosa

MANILA, Philippines — Clinical trials for the use of ivermectin against COVID-19 will soon begin after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered local regulators to study the drug, the Food and Drug Administration said.

The anti-parasitic drug is being touted as a possible treatment for COVID-19 despite health authorities' repeated warnings that using ivermectin, usually used in veterinary medicine, on humans could be dangerous.

READQuick questions—and answers—on anti-parasitic drug Ivermectin

"It was the president who ordered that in our last meeting," said FDA Director General Eric Domingo, who had previously warned against taking the the drug beyond its authorized use.

He did not say when the trial would start but said the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology is preparing for it already.

At last night's meeting of the coronavirus task force, Domingo told Duterte that this could be done in quarantine centers near the Philippine General Hospital. 

The FDA chief added that the DOST's original stand was to wait for the results of trials on ivermectin already underway in other parts of the world.

"Perhaps the president really wants to try it on Filipinos that's why he ordered the DOST to study it too," Domingo said in Filipino. "He has been hearing a lot who are supporting its use but also of scientists saying it still lacks evidence."

In recent weeks, the FDA has granted compassionate use permit of the drug to two hospitals. Rep. Janette Garin (Iloilo), a former health secretary, criticized the move as being more of a "political accommodation than a medical decision."

Senate President Vicente Sotto III and other politicians have admitted taking ivermectin as protection for the COVID-19. Sought for comment, Domingo said this should be done only with a doctor's prescription. 

"As long as the medicine is prescribed by the physician and explained to a patient, then it is the person's choice to take the medicine or not," he told Philstar.com. 

Domingo declined to say whether the FDA would take action on this, or if the Senate leader's remarks could affect agencies' warnings against the drug.

The World Health Organization in March cited reviews by the FDA in the United States and the European Medical Association that there is not enough proof that ivermectin could work against the virus.

Its manufacturer in the country admitted too that there is "little to no effect at all" of taking the drug for treating the COVID-19.






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