FDA tasked with stopping illegal trade of ivermectin

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
FDA tasked with stopping illegal trade of ivermectin
Undated photo shows FDA Director General Eric Domingo.
Department of Health

MANILA, Philippines — The country’s Food and Drug Administration will take the lead in going after the illegal traders of anti-parasitic drug ivermectin, Malacañang said on Wednesday. 

“To ensure the safety and welfare of the public and at the same time avoid any unnecessary conflicts, the FDA has been directed to take the lead in determining the course of action against the illegal trading or dispensing of ivermectin,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in  statement.

Roque said the Philippine National Police “cannot arbitrarily determine on their own” which drugs should be on the market.

“All operations to apprehend or seize goods must be done in coordination with the FDA,” he said.

The FDA made little progress in its investigation into the illegal use of smuggled COVID-19 vaccine jabs in late 2020.

Roque stressed that authorities must stop the sale or trade of ivermectin for veterinary use that has been repackaged as human grade, including those that have not been determined by authorities as safe.

The anti-parasitic drug is being touted as a possible treatment for or prophylactic against COVID-19 despite thin scientific evidence on its efficacy. Health authorities also warned against taking ivermectin beyond its authorized use.

In the Philippines, the only registered oral and intravenous preparations of ivermectin are veterinary products, and are only approved for use to prevent heartworm disease and treat parasites.

What is currently available for human use is in topical formulation, which is used to treat head lice.

At least two hospitals in the country have been given compassionate special permit (CSP) to use ivermectin to treat COVID-19 patients. A CSP allows doctors or hospitals to use unregistered medical products for limited off-label use.

“We advise the public to seek the advice of medical practitioners before taking medicines and/or supplements,” Roque said.

Duterte ‘closely monitoring’ developments

Roque also said that Duterte is “closely monitoring” developments about ivermectin in the country and abroad.

Duterte ordered to hold clinical trials for the use of the drug on COVID-19 patients.

The president also directed the Presidential Management Staff to give him weekly updates on ivermectin studies and FDA-related clearance, Roque added.

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