FDA's Domingo must act on ivermectin distribution â Ex-DOH chief
This undated photo shows Food and Drug Administration Director General Eric Domingo.
Facebook/Department of Health

FDA's Domingo must act on ivermectin distribution — Ex-DOH chief

(Philstar.com) - May 6, 2021 - 4:34pm

MANILA, Philippines — A former health secretary has urged Food and Drug Administration chief Eric Domingo to act on the ivermectin distribution in the country, saying incidents such as this seem to weaken the local regulator.

Dr. Esperanza Cabral told ONE News on Wednesday that the FDA would be put in a "bad position" should it fail to act on the push by some to give away the anti-parasitic drug.

"In the future, others would say we can also do this because you allowed the ivermectin despite no certificate of product registration, and those who prescribed it were not held liable," she said in Filipino on "The Chiefs."

Cabral, who was secretary of health during the Arroyo administration, said the FDA exercises quasi-judicial powers as a regulating body.

This means that it can confiscate ivermectin supplies when prescribed out of hospitals with special permit, as this goes against the agency's rules.

"They have many recourses, such as filing a Temporary Restraining Order to stop it," she added. "But I also understand FDA's position that it may be under pressure from lawmakers, as it is from them that the agency asks for funds."

On Wednesday, 41 medical groups pressed health authorities for action on the ivermectin distribution in Quezon City. Rep. Mike Defensor (Anakalusugan party-list) and Rep. Rodante Marcoleta (SAGIP party-list), both who are not medical doctors nor scientists, initiatived the move.

Cabral said the FDA with the Department of Health should put a united stance in asserting their functions. She added that the administration officials including President Rodrigo Duterte, should actively back the FDA and tell ivermectin supporters to stop.

It was the president who personally ordered clinical trials to see if the drug would work against the COVID-19. The executive department has also figured in vaccine-related controversies that put the FDA's grit to test.

This week, Duterte received his first dose of Sinopharm, a jab that has yet to receive emergency use approval from the FDA. In December 2020, it was also revealed that the Presidential Security Group was illegally inoculated with the same smuggled vaccine.

Cabral said there may come a time when Domingo will have to "cross the line" and act on these incidents.

"But what is his alternative? Either he resigns or he stays there and hopes that he can mitigate future events in the FDA," she said. "It can't keep going on like this, that his agency is being undermined and he can't do anything about it."

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