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DOH: Only hospitals with special permits can give ivermectin for COVID-19
Undated photo of Ivermictin capsules.
Interaksyon/FDA/Released

DOH: Only hospitals with special permits can give ivermectin for COVID-19

Gaea Katreena Cabico (Philstar.com) - April 28, 2021 - 1:28pm

MANILA, Philippines — Only hospitals given special permits to use ivermectin for limited use can give the anti-parasitic drug to COVID-19 patients, the Department of Health stressed after two lawmakers, who are not medical professionals, announced their plan to distribute the anti-parasitic drug to the public.

In a briefing Wednesday, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire also emphasized there is a “low quality of evidence” to support the use of ivermectin to prevent or treat COVID-19.

Vergeire said only hospitals given compassionate special permits (CSP) by the country’s Food and Drug Administration can use ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19. To date, five hospitals have received the permit to use the unregistered drug for limited off-label use.

“Bukod dito sa mga hospital na nakakuha ng CSP ay wala pa hong iba na pwedeng mag-distribute o pwedeng magpamigay nitong gamot na ito dahil nga po hindi ito rehistrado,” she said.

(Aside from hospitals that have received CSP, no other can distribute ivermectin because it is unregistered.)

The department earlier said that those who are giving away ivermectin are violating the Food and Drug Administration Act of 2009, which prohibits the distribution and promotion of unregistered medical products in the Philippines.

‘Ivermectin Pan-Three’

Deputy Speaker Rodante Marcoleta (Sagip party-list) and Rep. Michael Defensor (Anakalusugan party-list) said they would launch an “Ivermectin Pan-three” — a play on community pantries — on Thursday to distribute the anti-parasitic drug to the “poorest of the poor.”

The beneficiaries will get at least three tablets of the drug, which is only registered for human use in the Philippines in the form of a topical cream.

The lawmakers said they will be assisted by medical professionals from the Concerned Doctors and Citizens of the Philippines, which have been advocating the use of ivermectin for COVID-19 despite thin scientific evidence on its efficacy.

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

Scant evidence

Medical societies in the country, which examined ivermectin trials across the globe, said there is insufficient evidence to recommend the use of the drug in the treatment of patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19.

They also suggested against its use for the treatment of patients with severe COVID-1, citing very low quality of evidence.

“These are all conditional recommendations because of the very low quality of evidence that is existing right now internationally,” Vergeire said.

The World Health Organization does not recommend ivermectin on COVID-19 patients except in the context of clinical trial.

That said, dozens of clinical trials on its use for the treatment of COVID-19 are ongoing worldwide. The country will also study the drug upon the orders of President Rodrigo Duterte. — with report from Xave Gregorio

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