MANILA – The Philippine College of Physicians (PCP) on Monday warned the public against the indiscriminate and unregulated use of anti-parasitic drug ivermectin, saying there is insufficient evidence to recommend it in the treatment of patients with mild to moderate Covid-19 symptoms and as prophylaxis.
In an online media forum, PCP President Dr. Mario Panaligan said ivermectin has effects in the treatment of parasites, especially in animals. However, its potential effects in the treatment of Covid-19 patients are still under study.
“Hindi sa sinasabi naming walang epekto, pero gusto sana namin makita ang totoong epekto nito. Pangalawa, siguraduhing ligtas ito dahil iyon ang nakakabahala lalo na kung ito’y pinamimigay ng basta-basta kahit may doctor na nag-prescribe (We’re not saying that there’s no effect, but we want to see its real effect. We want to make sure it’s proven safe because its distribution even with doctor’s prescription is alarming),” Panaligan said.
Ivermectin must not be used indiscriminately or outside the hospitals which were granted compassionate use permit by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), he added.
On Sunday, the PCP called on the Department of Health, the FDA and other concerned agencies to “urgently act on the mass distribution of ivermectin”.
“We understand the desire of many concerned citizens to immediately find solutions to the threats of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, amidst the chaos and controversies, we find ourselves in, we call on everyone, particularly the thought leaders of communities and institutions, to stay firm with our resolve to be guided by science and medical information based on robust research,” Panaligan said.
“We have to resist being swayed by others despite the absence of enough scientific evidence. Let us also refrain from thinking that we are saving our countrymen from the complications of Covid-19 by giving them medicines that are not proven remedies,” he added.
Mass distribution of ivermectin could expose the public to unwanted and possible harmful side effects, as Panaligan said current evidence from randomized, controlled trials showed that the drug does not significantly improve clinical outcomes or reduce death among adults with mild Covid-19 infection.
Moreover, its use causes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, facial or limb swelling, neurologic adverse events — dizziness, seizures, confusion — sudden drop in blood pressure potentially requiring hospitalization, and liver injury or hepatitis. (PNA)