220 Philippine COVID-19 patients join WHO clinical trials

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 04 2020 03:16 PM

MANILA — The Department of Health on Thursday said the country now has 220 patients enrolled in the World Health Organization’s multi-country Solidarity Trial, an official said, 

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said as of Wednesday, 23 out of the 24 health facilities participating, have already been approved by an ethics committee to proceed.

Of those, 20 already have active patient recruitment. 

“Meron na tayong 220 patients enrolled. Ibig sabihin, tumaas tayo ng about 36 cases from the last time we reported nung May 27,” Vergeire said. 

(We already have 220 patients enrolled. This is 36 cases higher from the last time we reported on May 27.)

The Solidarity Trial involves the participation of more than 100 countries who want to help test four drug and drug combinations that are believed to help treat COVID-19 patients. These are (1) remdesivir, (2) lopinavir and ritonavir combined, (3) lopinavir and ritonavir plus interferon beta, and (4) chloroquine. These are all off-label drugs, which means they were created for other illnesses but are believed to have a positive effect on coronavirus patients.

Recently the WHO halted the use of hydroxychloroquine because of safety issues but it just decided to resume trials for the said malaria drug.

In April, the Philippines said it will enroll an initial 500 patients in the multi-country clinical trials. 

Informed consent is required for all clinical studies.

Vergeire said patients who want to join the trial should be 18 years and older and should not have pre-existing conditions that may be aggravated by the off-label drugs.

She said this is also the reason why the Department of Science and Technology’s virgin coconut oil (VCO) trials are also not getting enough patients.

DOST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña said on Wednesday that the ethics board of the University of the Philippines has also approved the clinical trials for VCO at the Philippine General Hospital. However, he said, they are not getting enough patients, which is why they had expanded the study to two more facilities.

Vergeire said studies are usually done in controlled environment to ensure that they are able to accurately check the effectivity of VCO.