ANAKALUSUGAN Party-list Representative Mike Defensor has ignored a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory against the use of antiparasitic drug Ivermectin in coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) patients and launched a program to distribute the drug for free.
In a Facebook post, Defensor said residents of Quezon City and senior citizens will be given priority. A doctor’s prescription is required.
Ivermectin is approved for treatment of parasites in animals. It is not registered in the Philippines for use in humans, although an application for a compassionate special permit has been filed.
FDA Director General Eric Domingo and infectious disease specialist Edsel Salvana both warned that a person who takes the drug in very high doses can develop encephalopathy and other adverse effects on the brain.
In a television interview, Defensor maintained that there is nothing wrong with what he was doing.
"Ang ibig kong sabihin 'pag ikaw ay pumunta ng doktor, nagkaroon ka ng prescription, sinabing gamitin mo 'tong gamot na 'to, puwede. So it's not illegal, sinusundan ko pa rin within the parameters of FDA and DOH," Defensor said.
Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire has issued a warning on the use of Ivermectin.
“Gusto natin bigyan ng babala ang ating mga kababayan ang mga unregistered drugs po ay hindi masisiguro ng ating gobyerno na ito ay ligtas at maproprotektahan sila dito sa sakit na sinasabi natin na paggagamitan nito,” she said in a radio interview.
In February 2021, drug manufacturer Merck said its pre-clinical studies showed that there is no scientific basis for Ivermectin’s potential therapeutic effect against Covid-19.
Merck also said there is “no meaningful evidence for clinical efficacy in patients with Covid-19.”
It further cited “a concerning lack of safety data in the majority of studies.” (Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo / SunStar Philippines)