Duterte refuses to discourage ivermectin to treat COVID-19
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte, while acknowledging that there is scant evidence to support the use of ivermectin as a treatment for COVID-19, refused to outrightly discourage the use of the antiparasitic drug for the viral disease and instead left it up to doctors to decide whether to treat patients with it.
“If the doctor believes in good faith that it can help and the patient also believes in his heart that he will get well, we leave it up to you to decide,” Duterte said in a taped Cabinet meeting that aired Saturday.
He continued, “Kasi mahirap naman masisi na kung totoo talagang effective, tapos pipigilan mo (It would be difficult for me to be blamed if I stop it and it turns out to be effective.)”
The president, however, pointed out that there are not enough published scientific studies on the use of ivermectin which would definitively conclude that it is a safe and effective prevention, treatment or cure for COVID-19.
Unlike Duterte, the Department of Health has categorically advised against the use of ivermectin for COVID-19.
"Evidence has shown it does not give you any benefit in preventing, shortening the duration of hospitalization or the progression of your disease when you have COVID-19,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in August.
The United States Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have also said that people should not use ivermectin to treat or prevent COVID-19 and have warned that some people have been required medical attention after self-medicating with the drug.
Clinical trials on ivermectin for COVID-19 are still ongoing worldwide, including in the Philippines which is spearheaded by the Department of Science and Technology.
In May, the local FDA approved ivermectin for human consumption, but only as an antiparasitic and not as a drug that could prevent or treat COVID-19.
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