MANILA - House Deputy Speaker Bernadette Herrera on Thursday called out the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) over a memorandum ordering the arrest of those involved in the illegal sale and use of ivermectin.
In a statement, Herrera said ivermectin, which is used against worm infestations and parasites in animals, is not an illegal drug.
"You cannot ban its use. It is our right to take care of ourselves as we fit it," she said.
Herrera is one of the those pushing for the use of ivermectin against COVID-19 despite health experts' warnings against its misuse.
She also doubts CIDG's claim that it was President Rodrigo Duterte that ordered the arrest of ivermectin users.
“How can ivermectin be illegal when compounding laboratories are actually allowed to produce and sell it?” Herrera said.
According to the Department of Health, ivermectin products registered in the country are for veterinary use, and are only allowed for the treatment of internal and external parasites as well as prevention of heartworm disease.
Herrera said she has already talked to PNP Chief Gen. Debold Sinas and CIDG Chief Police Brig. Gen. Albert Ferro about the said memorandum, and has been assured that they will have it recalled.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Thursday said it granted a "compassionate use permit" to a hospital for the use of anti-parasite drug ivermectin to counter COVID-19, despite previous warning by international health organizations.
FDA Director General Eric Domingo, however, declined to name the hospital "out of patient privacy."
Other hospitals that want to use ivermectin should secure separate compassionate use permit from the drug regulator, Domingo told ABS-CBN News in a text message.
Groups that want to distribute a large number of the drug can apply under one permit, he added.
Ivermectin recently made headlines after Anakalusugan Party-list Rep. Mike Defensor said he would distribute ivermectin to the sick and elderly in Quezon City, despite FDA warnings.
Unauthorized use of veterinary drugs could lead to brain damage and death, infectious disease expert Dr. Edsel Maurice Salvana earlier said.
The World Health Organization (WHO) last week recommended against using ivermectin in patients with COVID-19 except for clinical trials, because of a lack of data demonstrating its benefits.
The recommendation follows the European Medicines Agency's warning against the drug. The US Food and Drug Administration has also recommended it not be used for COVID-19.
Merck, an ivermectin manufacturer, has also said its analysis did not support the drug's safety and efficacy for COVID-19.
- with a report from Jamaine Punzalan and Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News; Reuters