MANILA — There are now a total of 450 patients in the Philippines who are receiving off-label drugs to treat COVID-19, the Department of Health said on Thursday.
“As of July 1, 2020, meron po tayong 450 patients na naka-enroll sa 22 active sites under the Solidarity Trial program,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a televised briefing.
(As of July 1, 2020, we have 450 patients enrolled in 22 active sites under the Solidarity Trial program.)
The number is an increase from April.
The World Health Organization’s Solidarity Trial is a multi-country clinical activity to test the effectivity of the off-label drugs remdesivir, ritonavir-lopinavir, and ritonavir-lopinavir with interferon beta. Off-label drugs are medicine made for other diseases but show promising effects on COVID-19 patients.
The Solidarity Trial used to include the drug hydroxychloroquine, but was removed from the study because of safety issues.
On Thursday morning, Vergeire cited Food and Drug Administration Director General Eric Domingo who said the day before that they are seeing “positive feedback” from the drug remdesivir.
However, Vergeire said it is not yet conclusive since the trial is still not complete.
“Mahirap pa po nating masabi o masuri ang epekto ng mga gamot na kasama sa Solidarity Trial. Kailangan pa rin natin mag-intay na matapos ang buong trial hanggang makakuha tayo ng conclusive results,” she said during the televised briefing.
(It’s hard to say or analyze the effect of the drugs included in the Solidarity Trial. We still need to wait for the whole trial to finish before we get conclusive results.)
Besides remdesivir, Vergeire also talked about the anti-inflammatory steroid drug dexamethasone, which is often used by people with allergies or with low blood pressure.
“Hindi po ito kasali sa WHO solidarity trial. Pero kamakailan lamang po ay naiulat mula sa recovery trial na ginagawa sa United Kingdom na ang dexamethasone ay nakakatulong upang mapababa ang mortality rate sa mga COVID-19 patients na nasa critical na kondisyon,” she said.
(This is not included in the WHO solidarity trial. But there was a recent study in United Kingdom that said that dexamethasone was able to help reduce the mortality rate of COVID-19 patients in critical condition.)
Vergeire said the DOH will update the public if there are other promising drugs being studied to treat COVID-19.
The health official has warned people against self-medicating with dexamethasone.