MANILA - The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) aims to finish its ivermectin clinical trial by first quarter of next year, an official said Tuesday as the study is set to begin this month.
The clinical trial will target "non-severe" COVID-19 patients such as those asymptomatic or with mild symptoms, said Dr. Jaime Montoya, executive director of the Department of Science and Technology's research arm.
"Our target to include data analysis is 8 months. That means it will be finished around first quarter of next year, maybe January or February. It depends on the rate of recruitment of volunteers. If the rate is fast, maybe we can finish the study earlier," he told ANC's Headstart.
"We are neutral, we are not for or against the use of ivermectin for COVID. What we're doing is to answer that question, is it going to be useful for Filipino patients with COVID-19?"
The study will be a randomized double blind placebo trial, wherein both investigators and patients would not be aware if the latter were given active or non-active ingredient, Montoya said.
It will focus on Metro Manila as it has the most number of virus infections and would be easier to follow up on participants, he added.
The DOST would finish its trial whether or not the Food and Drug Administration has allowed human use of the anti-parasitic drug, according to Montoya.
"It would be good for us to document the local experience of Filipino patients, how they respond, whether they will have adverse effects, and what proper dose will they take," he said.
"Most trials have varying doses and we don’t know what is the best dose for Filipinos, which is usually the lowest dose possible with the best effect."
Doctors could not use ivermectin without compassionate special permit or outside of a clinical trial setting, Montoya said after 2 lawmakers had distributed the anti-parasitic drug to Quezon City residents last week.
"It has to be registered first by the FDA and it has to be based on sound evidence. The WHO (World Health Organization) has issued updates that they do not recommend using ivermectin unless it’s in a clinical trial setting," he said.
The FDA has so far allowed only 5 hospitals to use ivermectin as an investigational drug to treat COVID-19.