Lawmakers ask court to compel health officials to approve ivermectin vs COVID-19

Jonathan de Santos - Philstar.com
Lawmakers ask court to compel health officials to approve ivermectin vs COVID-19
This file photo shows the Supreme Court.
File photo

MANILA, Philippines — Two members of the House who have been giving away antiparasitic drug ivermectin and a senator have joined a petition for the Supreme Court to compel regulators to allow its use against COVID-19.

The use of ivermectin against COVID-19 is still undergoing clinical trials. The Department of Health has so far said that "evidence has shown it does not give you any benefit in preventing, shortening the duration of hospitalization or the progression of your disease when you have COVID-19."

The US Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have also warned that people have fallen ill after self-medicating with the drug, which is more commonly used in veterinary medicine.

According to photos posted by CNN Philippines, Sen. Francis Tolentino and Reps. Michael Defensor (ANAKALUSUGAN party-list) and Rodante Marcoleta (SAGIP party-list) signed the petition, which lists Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and Food and Drug Administration Director General Eric Domingo as respondents.

Joining the lawmakers as petitioners are Drs. Homer Lim, Maria Quinto and Rafael Castillo.

RELATED: Facebook blocks lawmaker's accounts for COVID-19 misinformation

Petitioners are seeking a writ of mandamus that would order government agencies to "immediately issue" a Certificate of Product Registration for ivermectin and to issue licenses to companies that will make and sell the drug.

They also want the Supreme Court to order the health department to allow "the use if Ivermectin as treatment for COVID-19."

Marcoleta and Defensor organized an event in April where they and members of Concerned Doctors and Citizens of the Philippines distributed ivermectin pills to residents.

Health authorities promised a probe into reported irregularities in the distribution of the drug but nothing has come of that and the local Food and Drug Administration has been largely helpless against the unauthorized use of medicines and vaccines during the pandemic.

Ivermectin vs COVID-19 allowed through special permits

Ivermectin, which is usually used on humans as a topical treatment, is covered by Compassionate Special Permits that the FDA issues to specific hospitals. FDA has not allowed its use as a general treatment for COVID-19 for lack of evidence that it works.

Clinical trials on using ivermectin against COVID-19 have been scheduled in the Philippines, but the DOH will not endorse the drug until results are out. 

President Rodrigo Duterte, bucking the advice of his health department, has declined from discouraging use of the drug.

"Kasi mahirap naman masisi na kung totoo talagang effective, tapos pipigilan mo (It would be difficult for me to be blamed if I stop it and it turns out to be effective)," he said last week. 

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