MANILA—A group of pharmacists on Friday expressed concern over the distribution of free capsules of de-worming drug ivermectin in Quezon City recently, citing potential side effects and possible violation of the country's pharmacy law.
"Lubos po kaming nababahala sa paraan ng pamimigay ng ivermectin bilang panangga laban sa COVID-19," Philippine Pharmacists Association president Gilda Saljay told Teleradyo.
(We are deeply concerned over the way ivermectin was distributed to counter COVID-19.)
Photos circulating on social media showed that the prescription for ivermectin handed out by 2 lawmakers in Barangay Matandang Balara did not contain a physician's name and a license number, Saljay said, a violation of Republic Act 10918 or Philippine Pharmacy Act.
"Malinaw po 'yon na mga violative prescription kung 'yon ang ginagamit nila," Saljay said.
(It's clear these are violative prescriptions if those were the ones they're using.)
"Walang panghahawakan ang mga pasyente kung sakaling may mangyaring hindi kanais-nais sa kanila. In the health-care practice, we always believe in accountability, lalo na po dito sa gamot na ivermectin na under CSP o compassionate special permit."
(The patients would have no one to hold responsible if something bad happens to them. In the health-care practice, we always believe in accountability, especially with ivermectin, which is still under CSP or compassionate special permit.)
Saljay said pharmacists could only compound drugs for specific patients with a valid prescription.
"Ibig sabihin po, hindi puwedeng gawin para sa karamihan. Otherwise, hindi na ito compounding. Ito po ay tinatawag na naming manufacturing," she said.
(Which means, it couldn't be done for many people. Otherwise, we call it manufacturing.)
Anakalusugan party-list Rep. Mike Defensor and Sagip party-list Rep. Rodante Marcoleta on Thursday gave away free capsules of the anti-parasitic drug, despite warnings from several health organizations and medical groups.
Defensor had said the ivermectin could be distributed through licensed compounding laboratories or pharmacies with doctor's prescription.
So far, only 5 hospitals have been allowed by the Food and Drug Administration to access ivermectin as an investigational drug to treat COVID-19.
In an advisory it issued in March, the agency said registered oral and intravenous preparations of ivermectin in the country were veterinary products.
They were approved for use in animals for the prevention of heartworm disease and treatment of internal and external parasites in certain animal species.
Meanwhile, registered ivermectin products for human use were in topical formulations under prescription use only. This is used for the treatment of external parasites, such as head lice, and skin conditions, such as rosacea.