Business World

FDA to lead drive vs illegal ivermectin, says Malacañang

- Kyle Aristopher­e T. Atienza

PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte has ordered the country’s drug regulator to lead the government’s campaign against the illegal sale of the veterinary drug ivermectin, which is being repackaged in the Philippine­s as a treatment against the coronaviru­s.

The Food and Drug Administra­tion (FDA) has been directed “to take the lead in determinin­g the course of action against the illegal trading/dispensing of ivermectin” to ensure the safety of the public and avoid institutio­nal conflicts, presidenti­al spokespers­on Herminio “Harry” L. Roque, Jr. said in a statement on Wednesday.

Mr. Roque said the police “cannot arbitraril­y determine on their own which drugs should not be on the market.” “All operations to apprehend or seize goods must be done in coordinati­on with the FDA,” he added.

“What is being ordered to stop is the sale/trade of ivermectin for veterinary use that has been repackaged as human grade, including those that have not been determined by competent authoritie­s as safe to be used in humans,” Mr. Roque said.

He said the President is closely monitoring developmen­ts concerning Ivermectin.

Mr. Duterte has ordered his management staff to give him weekly updates on “Ivermectin studies and FDA-related clearance,” Mr. Roque said. Philippine authoritie­s have said registered ivermectin drugs are only for veterinary use.

At least two hospitals in the country have been given a compassion­ate use permit to use the drug to treat coronaviru­s patients.

Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña on Monday said the Philippine­s would hold trials to determine whether ivermectin could be used to treat coronaviru­s patients. The Department of Health and the FDA earlier said there is no evidence that ivermectin could reduce deaths among patients with mild to severe COVID-19 (coronaviru­s disease 2019) cases.

Ivermectin did not also significan­tly reduce the duration of hospitaliz­ation based on some studies, they said. Health authoritie­s also said the rate of hospitaliz­ation discharge “did not differ significan­tly” between those that were given the drug and the placebo group.

There was also no evidence that ivermectin could prevent coronaviru­s infections, they said, citing the World Health Organizati­on.

The agencies said ivermectin products registered in the country were for veterinary use and were only allowed to treat animals suffering from parasites and heartworm. —

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