Ivermectin is an anti-parasitic drug that is allegedly effective as COVID-19 treatment. It is often used as a laxative. There is human-grade Ivermectin and veterinary-grade Ivermectin or those just for animals.
In the Philippines, the only registered and sold species is that for animals.
But according to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Director-General Eric Domingo, Ivermectin can be obtained as long as it is prescribed by a doctor and purchased at a pharmacy that is authorized to make the drug.
“If you’re going to dispense an antibiotic, you have to have a doctor to check and write a prescription and then that prescription goes to a compounding pharmacy and make that for the patient. And they explain to a patient that this is what this drug will do to you, these are the possible effects. If that patient accepts it, then that is the legal way of doing this. Iyung veterinary products, definitely hindi pwedeng ireseta sa tao,” said Domingo.
Defensor, on the other hand, defended that there is a proper protocol to follow for the Ivermectin he will distribute, which is said to be based on studies that have been found to help some patients in other countries during the pandemic. He also called it a “clinical trial.”
“I’m getting it from a compounding laboratory, there is a prescription following the FDA guidelines and I am giving people access to that. I am not selling it. I’m giving it for free… We hope that this clinical trial that we’re doing will be also imitated, gamitin din sa ibang lugar,” said Defensor.
But when asked who can be held responsible for side effects from the use of Ivermectin, Defensor replied: “The point is before you’re allowed to take it, may consent ‘yung tao. May consent naman ‘yung tao diyan, it is an informed consent.”
Facts on ivermectin as COVID-19 treatment
“May mga side effect [na] nakita sa literature. Common diyan ay headache. Sometimes they have abdominal pain. You have to watch out for that,” said Dr. Rontgene Solante.
“Sa ganiyang mataas na dose, pwedeng magkaroon ng brain damage ang isang tao at puwedeng mamatay kung ma-overdose nang todo-todo,” said Dr. Edsel Salvana, member of the Department of Health (DOH) technical advisory group.
The DOH previously stated that it does not recommend the use of Ivermectin as COVID-19 treatment. The World Health Organization says there is still insufficient evidence that it can treat or prevent a person from developing COVID-19.
The DOH is already investigating how Defensor plans to distribute it to the people of Quezon City.
“The WHO said it has to be used right, not only in the setting of a clinical trial. So this kind of dispensing and having the community use it is not a clinical trial… The clinical trial is a scientific process with very definite steps and based on scientific rigor. For us doctors, our mantra would be do no harm first. So this one is opposing all the scientist and medical principles that we have right now,” said DOH spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire.