MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte told the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to continue with clinical trials on the use of anti-parasitic drug ivermectin for COVID-19, claiming that many people, including doctors, swear by its efficacy.
In his weekly public briefing on Monday, Duterte asked FDA Director General Eric Domingo about the status of the ivermectin clinical trials, which the later said is due to start within the month.
Duterte then said that he has been hearing a lot of testimonials from different people who talk about how the drug, originally intended for animal use, has allegedly helped them in their battle with COVID-19.
"There are a lot of credible people, doctors at that, at maraming sibilyan na they swear by their fathers' graves na 'yang ivermectin na 'yan is doing good to their bodies while they are suffering from COVID-19. 'Yung iba reported that the following day nakatindig na sila (Others were able to stand up the following day)," he claimed.
"I'm just telling you, a lot of people, in the province, maraming nagsasabi sa akin na gumaling sila pagkatapos nilang inumin itong bakuna sa bulate," Duterte added.
(I'm just telling you, a lot of people, in the province, a lot of them told me they got cured after taking this anti-parasitic drug.)
He, however, reiterated that the government must ensure the safety of ivermectin for human use before it can be made available publicly.
"And you know, kagaya ko, pareho man tayo, as a lawyer, as a doctor, we have to exercise the greatest of diligence of a good father of a family, 'yung talagang pinakastriktong daanan before giving it to the public," Duterte said.
(Like me, we are the same, as a lawyer, as a doctor, we have to exercise the greatest of diligence of a good father of a family, we have to be very strict before giving it to the public.)
Duterte also said it can be helpful if the clinical trials prove the efficacy of ivermectin.
"So the earlier the studies are completed, whether or not it has the efficacy to fight COVID-19 is important kasi mura at available (because it is cheap and available). And if it can lessen COVID by 50 percent, maganda na yan, sa totoo lang (that's good already, truth be told)," he said.
"Sa akin lang, if there's an application at may mga clinical studies na kayo. If there is no, kung funding lang, eh di i-fund mo na lang. We can replenish the money later," Duterte added.
(For me, if there's an application and if you already have clinical studies. If you don't have yet, if you need funding, just fund it first. We can replenish the money later.)
Duterte earlier ordered the conduct of clinical trials of the anti-parasitic drug, despite initial hesitancy from experts.
FDA said there are now human grade ivermectin being used. It has previously granted at least 3 hospitals compassionate special permits to use the anti-parasitic drug ivermectin as potential treatment for COVID-19.
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