MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday clarified what ivermectin is for, noting that it is a veterinary drug.
This, after Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Director General Eric Domingo said at least three companies are seeking product registration for human-grade ivermectin that is supposed to be used for treating COVID-19 patients.
During Monday's televised meeting with Cabinet members on the government's COVID-19 response, Duterte asked Domingo whether ivermectin can really cure COVID-19.
Domingo replied that although there are some people who claim they got cured after ivermectin, there is no definitive proof that it can indeed cure COVID-19.
"HIndi ba yan gamot sa hayop?" Duterte asked.
(Isn't that medicine for animals?)
Domingo clarified that at present, the government has only allowed remdesivir, favipiravir, and tocilizumab to be used for COVID-19 treatment.
Last week, the FDA 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.
Ivermectin is usually used to treat parasites in animals, according to an earlier FDA advisory.
The DOH also said 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.
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.
Several House lawmakers, including Anakalusugan Party-list Rep. Mike Defensor, are advocating the use of ivermectin. Defensor earlier said he would distribute human-grade ivermectin to the sick and elderly in Quezon City, despite FDA warnings.