Lawmakers to distribute ivermectin for COVID-19, defying warnings on drug

Xave Gregorio - Philstar.com
Lawmakers to distribute ivermectin for COVID-19, defying warnings on drug
Undated photo of Ivermictin capsules.
Interaksyon / FDA / Released

MANILA, Philippines — Despite warnings from the World Health Organization, the Department of Health (DOH), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and various medical societies that there is not enough evidence to support the use of ivermectin to prevent or treat COVID-19, two lawmakers said Tuesday they will be distributing the anti-parasitic drug to the public.

Beginning Thursday, their initiative —  dubbed “Ivermectin Pan-three” in an obvious attempt to jump on the community pantry trend — would see beneficiaries from the “poorest of the poor” get at least three tablets of the drug, which is only registered for human use in the form of a topical cream.

INTERAKSYON: The ‘unpleasant’ side effects of taking Ivermectin drug, according to medical professionals

The lawmakers said they will be assisted by doctors, particularly medical professionals from the Concerned Doctors and Citizens of the Philippines, which has been pushing for the use of ivermectin for COVID-19 despite scant data on it.

Food and Drug Administration Director General Eric Domingo told Philstar.com that as long as doctors are present to check patients and prescribe the drug, the planned distribution of ivermectin is legal.

‘Like a war’

Deputy Speaker Rodante Marcoleta (Sagip party-list) and Rep. Michael Defensor (Anakalusugan party-list), the two lawmakers behind the drive, likened the pandemic to a “war” where “people protect themselves with anything in order to survive.”

“We need to cross the line and break the glass ceilings, if we must, one way or the other. We cannot, in good conscience, sit idly by at the excuse of inflexible bureaucracy to deny our people — especially the underprivileged — their pharmaceutically-assisted moments as they struggle to breathe their last,” they said.

The two lawmakers also hit the DOH and the FDA for their supposed “complacency, if not indifference” towards ivermectin.

“Time and again, they are dismissive of the avalanche of clinical trials that have unfolded before their very eyes, unyielding to bend and improvise the guidelines and policies that apply only during normal times,” Marcoleta and Defensor said.

Ten medical societies, along with the DOH and the FDA, however, have examined six clinical trials on ivermectin and found that it did not significantly reduce deaths or improve other clinical outcomes among COVID-19 patients.

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

Local regulators, for one, are studying the drug upon the orders of President Rodrigo Duterte.

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