MANILA

Off-label drugs being used to treat Covid-19 patients, DOH admits

(Photo grabbed from DOH Facebook Live video)

CHLOROQUINE and hydroxychloroquine are being used in Philippine hospitals to manage patients suffering from the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), the Department of Health (DOH) confirmed Wednesday, April 15.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said these are referred to as off-label drugs because these were manufactured to treat another disease.

“Ang chloroquine at hydroxychloroquine, ito ay mga gamot na ginagamit para sa malaria at rheumatoid arthritis,” Vergeire said in a virtual press conference Wednesday.

“Ito ay mga off-label drugs na tinatawag natin. Ibig sabihin, sinusubukan natin na gamitin ito sa loob ng ospital, guided by doctors, para sa Covid-19,” she added.

The hydroxychloroquine is usually combined with azithromycin to treat Covid-19 patients.

Cardiologists have, however, warned against the use of these drugs in patients with heart disease.

Vergeire stressed that consumers are not allowed to use the drug without the supervision of registered physicians.

“Kaya ngayon dito sa ating bansa, ito ay gagamitin pero kailangan malaman hindi ito puwedeng gamitin sa bahay, hindi po ito over the counter, ‘di po ito ginagamit for preventing Covid-19,” she said.

“Ginagamit po ito para sa management ng covid 19 sa ospital guided by physicians,” she added.

Meanwhile, Vergeire said suspected cases of Covid-19 may be discharged from the hospital if the initial test yields a negative result and if the following conditions are met:

  • The patient’s condition has improved, which means the symptoms are gone;
  • There are no other indications for the patient to remain in the hospital;
  • The patient has been diagnosed with another illness that could explain the symptoms; and
  • The probability is high that the patient is not infected with the novel coronavirus.


Patients who tested positive for the virus may be discharged only when the symptoms are gone and another RT-PCR test yields a negative result.

All patients discharged from the hospital are still required to undergo the mandatory 14-day self-quarantine. (SunStar Philippines)

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