House to look into policies on drug products for COVID-19 treatment

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 16 2021 06:33 PM

MANILA - A House of Representatives panel has set for next Thursday its investigation on the policies and guidelines of the health department and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on their protocols for medications used by COVID-19 patients. 

The House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability said the probe aims to discuss with the two agencies the registration, utilization, manufacture, distribution or sale of medicines for those with the coronavirus. 

Committee Chairperson and Diwa Party-list Rep. Michael Aglipay told the development to House reporters: “hearing on ivermectin is now Thursday 9:30 a.m.”

House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco and Deputy Speaker Bernadette Herrera-Dy earlier filed House Resolution No. 1711 asking the said committee to conduct a probe in aid of legislation on the 2 agency's protocols regarding the said products against the virus. 

The resolution also wanted to center on the "policies and guidelines which appear to be detrimental to public interest." 

The 2 senior lawmakers also cited the Department of Health's (DOH) issuance of Memorandum Circular No. 2020-0138 adopting clinical practice guidelines on the coronavirus and FDA's Circular 2020-12 which lays down the guidelines for the registration of drug products under Emergency Use for COVID-19.

“Said FDA circular and other related guidelines have been questioned for being arbitrary, bureaucratic and inhumane for causing unnecessary delays in the approval and clearance of drugs and therapeutics for emergency use authorization or for the use of drugs under compassionate special permit against the dreaded COVID-19,” the resolution read. 

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The probe also came as the anti-parasite drug ivermectin made headlines last week, after Anakalusugan Party-list Rep. Mike Defensor said he would distribute ivermectin to the sick and elderly in Quezon City, despite FDA warnings.

According to the DOH, 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 has warned against the use of ivermectin in patients with COVID-19, except for clinical trials because of a lack of data demonstrating its benefits.