MANILA - Philippine hospitals may begin their clinical trials in search for an effective COVID-19 treatment, the Department of Health said Sunday.
DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said some 20 hospitals may begin if they already have stock of the off-label drugs used in the World Health Organization's multi-country clinical trials.
"Ito’y magtatagal for months. Ang ating clinical trial ay pwede nang maumpisahan dahil nakuha na natin ang necessary clearances and we are good to go," she told radio DZMM.
(This will last for months. Our clinical trial can already begin because we have obtained the necessary clearances and we are good to go.)
"Nung Biyernes, tinitingnan po natin kung makakakuha na tayo ng gamot from different hospitals na pwedeng pagumpisahan."
(Last Friday we were assessing if we can get medicine from different hospitals that can start already.)
Among the drugs that will be included in the trial are (1) remdesivir, (2) lopinavir and ritonavir combined, (3) two drugs plus interferon beta, and (4) chloroquine.
Some 500 patients in critical stage of the disease are expected to take part in the trial. "Dapat may informed consent. Ibig sabihin, alam ng pasyente yung ating ipapaliwanag sa kanila kung ano ang pwedeng maging epekto ng gamot. Ipapaliwanag din sa kanila kung ano yung mga posibilidad na pwedeng mangyari habang pinapainom sa kanila ang gamot na ito," Vergeire said.
The drugs will be administered until the desired dosage is achieved.
She said the trial may be expanded to more patients if necessary.
Vergeire said that although some participating hospitals in the country may have the identified drugs in their current inventory, the WHO will still send shipments intended for the trial.
Vergeire, meantime, reiterated that experts have yet to find a cure for the new strain of virus.
"Wala ngayong gamot na may ebidensiya na 100 percent magwo-work against COVID-19. Lahat pawang sinusubukan pa lamang," she said.
Vergeire said the agency will give an update Monday on which hospitals have begun their clinical trials.
As of Saturday, there are 7,294 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Philippines. Of this figure, 792 have recovered and 494 have died.