MANILA – Two lawmakers on Thursday distributed free capsules of anti-parasitic drug ivermectin to residents in Quezon City, which they believe could fight COVID-19.
Residents of Barangay Matandang Balara were required to fill up a form before on-site doctors prescribed them with the de-worming drug.
Anakalusugan Party-list Rep. Mike Defensor and Sagip Party-list Rep. Rodante Marcoleta proceeded with their planned distribution despite warnings from various health authorities and medical groups.
In a press briefing Wednesday, Defensor, who had recovered from coronavirus, said he would “fight” the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in court should the regulatory body stop them from giving out ivermectin.
“Legally, we are compliant. On two occasions during the hearings, they said this process can be done. If they will again block this, then the people especially the poor will not be given the drug. I will fight them in court. They are too much,” he told reporters in a mix of Filipino and English.
Interviewed on ANC Thursday, FDA Director General Eric Domingo said he saw no problem with the distribution of ivermectin.
“I believe they will be sourcing it from a licensed compounding pharmacy. As long as they have doctors there who will take a look at patients and prescribe their medicines, then that’s not a problem. It’s the responsibility now of the doctors,” he said.
Domingo said the licensed compounding pharmacy was allowed to compound the drug and it could be given out as long there’s a doctor’s prescription.
The Department of Health had earlier reiterated that only hospitals granted with compassionate special permit could administer ivermectin to patients as part of their COVID-19 treatment.
“Bukod po dito sa mga ospital na nakakuha ng CSP ay wala pa hong iba na puwedeng mag-distribute o puwedeng magpamigay ng gamot na ito dahil nga po hindi pa ito rehistrado,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told reporters Wednesday.
(Aside from these hospitals that have CSP, there are no other groups that can distribute this drug because this is not registered.)
So far, the FDA has granted 5 hospitals access to ivermectin as investigational drug to treat COVID-19.
In an advisory it issued in March, the FDA said registered oral and intravenous preparations of ivermectin in the country were veterinary products.
They were approved for use in animals for the prevention of heartworm disease and treatment of internal and external parasites in certain animal species.
Meanwhile, registered ivermectin products for human use were in topical formulations under prescription use only. This is used for the treatment of external parasites, such as head lice, and skin conditions, such as rosacea. – With a report from Zandro Ochona, ABS-CBN News