The Department of Health, and the Food and Drug Administration reminded the public on Friday that anti-parasitic drug Ivermectin is not recommended for COVID-19 treatment as some lawmakers continue to advocate for its use against the virus.
Self-medication using Ivermectin could be harmful and taking the drug on grounds of "compassionate use" should have an accompanying valid prescription, the DOH and the FDA said.
"We have said this many times before and we will say it again. We do not recommend the use of Ivermectin for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 as the benefits of this antiparasitic drug for this purpose has not been established," FDA Director General Eric Domingo said.
A clinical trial to test the efficacy of Ivermectin for COVID-19 treatment is underway, Domingo added, noting that the public should wait for its results.
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"While we recognize recent calls for its use, the positive effects of Ivermectin have yet to be proven. Moreover, the danger of self-administering this drug is concerning, which is why we call on the public to refrain from self-medicating and indiscriminately using this potentially harmful product," Health Sec. Francisco Duque III said.
The FDA and DOH however clarified that "investigational drugs" for the treatment of COVID-19 may be used provided that regulations are followed.
"Specifically, off-label use can be allowed under a compassionate special permit (CSP) or when it is compounded by a duly licensed pharmacy and properly dispensed by a pharmacist to a patient with a valid prescription," the agencies said.
The FDA previously granted permits to select hospitals for the use of Ivermectin to treat COVID-19 on the grounds of "compassionate use."
While the FDA earlier said that distribution of Ivermectin is "not a problem" as long as it is prescribed by a doctor, the DOH said it received reports of alleged invalid prescriptions being given out to individuals.
"The DOH likewise assured that it will officially endorse the reports to the Professional Regulation Commission to investigate the veracity of the reports and impose sanctions as deemed necessary, based on existing laws," it said.
The clarification came a day after partylist representatives Mike Defensor of Anakalusugan and Rodante Marcoleta distributed Ivermectin to their constituents in Quezon City. The two lawmakers are known advocates of the antiparasitic drug for COVID-19 treatment.
How to know if a doctor's prescription is valid? The DOH and FDA said the public should check the following:
- date of the prescription
- patient's name, age, and sex
- pertinent details about the prescribing physician such as name, office address, PRC number, and professional tax receipt number if applicable