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DOH: Further studies needed before use of Ivermectin on COVID-19 cases

The Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday said it wants to see more scientific evidence proving that Ivermectin can lead to positive outcomes among COVID-19 patients before it supports the use of the antiparasitic drug.

Interviewed on GMA News’ Unang Balita, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said Ivermectin must undergo the regulatory process so it can be approved for use on COVID-19 cases.

“The DOH is open to any intervention or investigational drug na mapapatunayan na merong ebidensya na ito’y makakaprotekta sa ating populasyon. Sa ngayon, base sa pag-aaral ng ating mga eksperto, wala pa po siyang naipapakita na difference doon sa mga outcomes na gusto nating ma-achieve sa pagbibigay nito,” she said.

(The DOH is open to any intervention or investigational drug that is proven to protect the population. As of now, based on the studies of our experts, Ivermectin has not shown the difference in outcome that we want to achieve.)

“Ang rekomendasyon namin, further studies lang. Kung merong bagong study na dadating na makakapagpakita talaga no’ng ebidensya ay tatanggapin po natin at ia-adopt ng DOH ‘yan for use. Meron po tayong dapat na proseso para ipatupad ito. Hindi puwedeng basta ginagamit na lang natin,” she added.

(Our recommendation is to conduct further studies. If a new study with sound evidence comes out, we will accept and adopt Ivermectin for use. We have a process that must be followed. We can’t just use this drug at will.)

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) earlier stressed that Ivermectin veterinary products are not for COVID-19 treatment, but FDA chief Eric Domingo later said he would speak with the manufacturer to see how the registration of the drug can be fast-tracked

An expert previously explained that the FDA registration of Ivermectin specifically for human consumption lapsed in 2018

Merck, the manufacturer of Ivermectin, has maintained that there is “no scientific basis for a potential therapeutic effect against COVID-19 from pre-clinical studies, no meaningful evidence for clinical activity or clinical efficacy in patients with COVID-19 disease, and a concerning lack of safety data in the majority of studies.” 

Clinical trial

Later during a briefing, Vergeire said the DOH is open to conducting a clinical trial for Ivermectin.

“Bukas ang DOH na makipag-tulungan dito sa mga proponents ng Ivermectin para maisagawa natin ‘yung formal clinical trial para mas magkaroon tayo ng sapat na ebidensya kung talagang kagamit-gamit at katanggap-tanggap itong gamot na ito,” she said.

(The DOH is open to working with proponents of Ivermectin to hold a formal clinical trial for us to have enough evidence to see if this drug is acceptable.)

She also said patients who were infected with COVID-19 and used Ivermectin may have recovered from the respiratory disease because of other reasons.

“I hope people who are now using this drug would not have that false sense of confidence na protektado na sila (that they are protected) against COVID-19 because as we say right now, the evidence is not complete yet,” Vergeire said.

Anakalusugan Party-list Representative Mike Defensor, one of the lawmakers pushing for the use of Ivermectin for COVID-19, earlier admitted receiving the drug when he contracted the coronavirus. — Julia Mari Ornedo/RSJ, GMA News