HEALTH authorities in Davao Region issued a warning against an establishment in Tagum City for promoting Ivermectin to its employees.
A photo of a tarpaulin posted at the building of LYR Group bearing the words, "Congratulations! This establishment is now Covid-19 free. Thank you, Ivermectin! Go fight win [sic]," went viral online for the past weeks.
In his post, the uploader of the photo questioned the establishment, considering that Ivermectin lacks clinical proof as an effective cure against Covid-19.
The post, which is no longer available as of Thursday, July 22, has met with mixed reactions, with the employees of the establishment criticizing the uploader for calling the believers of Ivermectin "bobo” (stupid).
Dr. Rachel Joy Pasion, Regional Epidemiology Surveillance Unit head of DOH-Davao, said in a virtual presser that they summoned the management of the establishment and explained that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not endorsed Ivermectin.
Pasion said the Tagum City Health Office reached out to them to raise the concern.
“Kaya po sila nagpatawag ng meeting sa (That is why they called for a meeting with the) company, and we provided them with the released advisories of FDA, and also, ‘yung mga (the) clinical trials showing that Ivermectin has no enough evidence to support its claim against Covid-19 ,” the DOH official said.
FDA Director Deborah Legaspi said they are currently investigating the establishment.
Legaspi explained that there is still no registered drug product that is for the treatment of Covid-19 in the market.
"Wala pa kasing (There is no) clinical studies that would show that these products are really produced for Covid-19 treatment," the FDA official said.
According to FDA, Ivermectin is approved in the Philippines as an antiparasitic treatment for animals. It is not approved for commercial distribution as Covid-19 treatment.
FDA Director General Eric Domingo said it is currently approved for compassionate special permit use only in selected hospitals in the country.
DOH Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire stressed that the compassionate special permit is not the same as a Certificate of Product Registration (CPR) for drug products.
She also said the currently available vaccines in the market are granted with emergency use authorization (EUA), and that only the government can directly distribute the vaccines for inoculation.
Legaspi said companies that are promoting drugs that are not registered or authorized by the government can be held liable.
“Merong (There is) product deception because the public is being deceived with the use of the product,” she said.
According to Section 6, Item C of the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Bayanihan 2 law, she said it is an offense if a certain individual or company is engaging in product deception.
She also said that the Bayanihan Law also penalizes anyone spreading false information on certain products.
“Looking at the FDA law, if you look at Section 11, Item A, ipinagbabawal ang (among the prohibited acts include) pagma-manufacture (manufacturing, importation, exportation, sale, offering for sale, distribution, transfer, non-consumer use, promotion, advertising, or sponsorship of any health products that is unregistered or misbranded,” Legaspi said.
SunStar Davao reached out to the LYR Group on its official Facebook page for comment on the statement of DOH and FDA. But they have not responded as of Thursday, July 22.
In a 46-minute video posted by the LYR Marketing Corporation on June 17, LYR Chairman Larry Y. Rubinos shared his testimony on the "wonders" of the Ivermectin drug.
However, LYR issued a disclaimer that the efficacy of the drug was only based on the opinion and testimony of those who consumed the drug and manifested therapeutic results. Thus, the information provided in the video should not be treated as professional medical advice.