MANILA — The Food and Drug Administration will take the lead in countering the illegal distribution of anti-parasitic drug ivermectin, which is still under study for COVID-19 treatment, Malacañang said on Wednesday.
The police "cannot arbitrarily determine on their own which drug/s should not be on the market," said Palace spokesman Harry Roque.
"To ensure the safety and welfare of the public and at the same time avoid any unnecessary conflicts, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been directed to take the lead in determining the course of action against the illegal trading/dispensing of Ivermectin," he said in a statement.
"All operations to apprehend or seize goods must be done in coordination with the FDA."
Authorities should stop "the sale/trade of Ivermectin for veterinary use that has been repackaged as human grade, including those that have not been determined by competent authorities as safe to be used in humans," Roque said.
The public should "seek the advice of medical practitioners before taking medicines and/or supplements," he said.
President Rodrigo Duterte "is closely monitoring the developments concerning Ivermectin here and abroad," said Roque.
"He has even directed the Presidential Management Staff (PMS) to give him weekly updates on Ivermectin studies and FDA-related clearance," he said.
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) has 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 Reuters