MANILA, Philippines — The local clinical trial of anti-parasite medication ivermectin to determine its efficacy in combating COVID-19 may start by end of May or first week of June, the Department of Science and Technology said Thursday.
The local ivermectin trial—ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte—could run for six months, said Dr. Jaime Montoya, chief of the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Health Research and Development.
Around 1,200 COVID-19 patients with mild to moderate symptoms who are undergoing isolation in quarantine facilities are being eyed to participate in the study.
The DOST is targeting to recruit participants in outbreak epicenter Metro Manila.
A local trial will be “very useful” in determining the effects of ivermectin on Filipinos, Montoya said.
“We will see how Filipinos respond to the drugs and what side effects will manifest,” Montoya said.
Dr. Marissa Alejandria, president of the Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, maintained there is insufficient evidence on the efficacy of ivermectin.
According to the Living Clinical Practice Guidelines, crafted by medical societies along with the DOH and the Food and Drug Administration, there is inadequate evidence to recommend the use of ivermectin for the treatment of patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19. They also suggested against its use for the treatment of patients with severe COVID-19
“Since we know there are ongoing clinical trials, we are not closing the door on ivermectin. What we are saying is there’s still insufficient evidence to give it to the general population. You can but you have to explain. We are not preventing,” Alejandira said.
Some lawmakers have started promoting the use of ivermectin for COVID-19 and distributed free tablets, although medical authorities, including the World Health Organization, have cautioned against its use to prevent or treat COVID-19.
FDA Director General Eric Domingo earlier said the distribution of ivermectin is legal as long as doctors are present to check patients and prescribe the drug.
But Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire stressed only hospitals given compassionate special permits can give ivermectin to COVID-19 patients.
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