DOH: Regulators looking into ivermectin distribution

DOH: Regulators looking into ivermectin distribution

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health said Monday it will “act accordingly” on the distribution of anti-parasitic drug ivermectin led by two House lawmakers last week.

“We will act accordingly, according to the existing laws that we have in the country, according to the identified violations, according to the accountable persons,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a briefing Monday.

Last week, Rep. Michael Defensor (Anakalusugan party-list) and Deputy Speaker Rodante Marcoleta (Sagip party-list), who are not doctors by profession, distributed ivermectin capsules to some 200 Quezon City residents.

They were assisted by medical professionals from the Concerned Doctors and Citizen of the Philippines, a group pushing for the use of the drug despite scant evidence backing its safety and efficacy for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19.

Beneficiaries received prescriptions written on pieces of paper that lacked information of the issuing doctors such as their names and professional tax receipt numbers. The residents were also made to sign a waiver before receiving the capsules.

The DOH forwarded reports of invalid prescriptions to the Professional Regulation Commission, Vergeire said.

The Food and Drug Administration is also conducting an investigation.

It remains to be seen if initiatives to dispense ivermectin will be penalized.

The DOH and the FDA, in a statement last week, maintained they do not recommend the use of ivermectin for the prevention and treatment of COVID. But to date, the country's drug regulator has issued compassionate special permits to five hospitals, allowing them to use the anti-parasitic medication to treat COVID-19 patients.

The FDA also allows licensed pharmacies to compound the drug and properly dispense it to patients with valid prescriptions.

President Rodrigo Duterte ordered government agencies to conduct clinical trials to determine the efficacy of ivermectin in combating COVID-19.

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