AnaKalusugan party-list representative Michael Tan Defensor.
MANILA — AnaKalusugan party-list representative Michael Tan Defensor is defending his move to distribute the anti-parasitic drug Ivermectin as an alternative treatment to Covid-19 despite an advisory by health authorities against its unauthorized use because there is still no scientific basis for its use against the coronavirus disease.
This came despite a warning from the Department of Health (DoH) that the use of Ivermectin to treat or prevent Covid-19 in humans is hounded by “uncertainties” and that trials conducted in other countries involving the medicine used to treat many types of parasite infestations such as head lice and scabies, have not indicated a positive outcome for it to be recommended for use as a treatment for the ongoing pandemic.
However, Defensor said that instead of “killing” an initiative that could potentially save people’s lives, authorities must instead consider monitoring Ivermectin’s local manufacturers and regulating the product.
House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco urged the health department and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be more proactive and study the safety and efficacy of Ivermectin for Covid-19 prevention and treatment.
In a statement, Velasco noted that most Filipinos have now become “desperate for a cure” and that the government should inform the public of all options for preventing and treating the disease now ravaging the National Capital Region and adjacent provinces.
“With cases surging and more people dying, regulators should find it necessary to look into the safety and efficacy of Ivermectin and other repurposed drugs for Covid-19. These are desperate times that call for a more proactive regulatory approach. People need alternative remedies to prevent or treat Covid-19,” he stressed.
Even Deputy Speaker and Bagong Henerasyon party-list solon Bernadette Herrera and 1Pacman Rep. Enrico Pineda pushed for the use of the drug for Covid-19 treatment.
So far, the Food and Drug Administration has only approved Ivermectin for animal use, to prevent heartworm disease and treat parasite infestation such as head lice and scabies. Local manufacturers already applied for the ‘compassionate use’ of the drug on humans, but no feedback has been given on this yet.
“If there are compounding labs, then it’s best to monitor and regulate instead of killing supply which results in illegal production, smuggling and increase of prices,” Defensor pointed out even as he admitted that he got Ivermectin treatment while recovering from Covid-19.
“Eh kung safe naman at baka maka-tulong eh bakit nila haharangin,” he said separately in a text message.
But amidst the solon’s arguments favoring Ivermectin, the company behind the anti-parasitic drug has maintained that there is no basis in using it as a treatment for Covid-19.
In an earlier statement, Merck said their analysis has shown that there is “no scientific basis for a potential therapeutic effect against Covid-19 from pre-clinical studies; no meaningful evidence for a clinical activity or clinical efficacy in patients with Covid-19 disease; and a concerning lack of safety data in the majority of studies.”
“We do not believe that the data available support the safety and efficacy of Ivermectin beyond the doses and populations indicated in the regulatory agency-approved prescribing information,” a Merck spokesperson stated.
This was supported by local health experts led by Dr. Edsel Salvana of the DoH’s Technical Advisory Group, who warned that although Ivermectin is generally safe, at certain doses that are “required for possible antiviral activity, (the medication) could cause brain damage.”
Earlier, the FDA shut down the laboratory of Dr. Allan Landrito, who was compounding Ivermectin for sale to Covid-19 patients. (AI/MTVN)