MANILA— The Department of Health still does not recommend the use of ivermectin as treatment for COVID-19 due to lack of data demonstrating its benefits.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said this Friday after the British Ivermectin Research Development sent a letter urging the government to use the antiparasitic drug as "prophylaxis" and early treatment of the illness.
"Based on the current evidence from randomized controlled trials, we do not recommend the use of ivermectin for the treatment of COVID-19," she said in a press briefing.
The de-worming drug "has not proven to significantly reduce mortality, nor to improve other clinical outcomes," she added.
Vergeire noted their recommendation would be updated as more evidence is generated from ongoing trials.
"So right now the medical consensus is that there is no evidence to support the use of ivermectin in treating COVID-19," she said.
While the DOH is not against the use of investigational drugs, Vergeire said the agency always put first the safety of Filipinos.
"So rest assured that the DOH and FDA (Food and Drug Administration) are at the forefront of ensuring COVID-19 drugs and medicines are safe, effective, accessible, and affordable for use," she said.
To date, there are no approved prophylactic medicines for COVID-19 in the country.
The "best way" to protect from COVID-19 is to keep healthy, continuously practice minimum public health standards and get the anti-virus jabs whenever it is available, Vergeire said.
Three lawmakers have petitioned the Supreme Court to compel state regulators to allow the use of ivermectin against COVID-19.
In May, the FDA granted a certificate of product registration to a local company to register ivermectin for human anti-parasitic treatment.
The other 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.
In an advisory, the US FDA also said currently available data do not show ivermectin was effective against COVID-19.
"Never use medications intended for animals on yourself or other people. Animal ivermectin products are very different from those approved for humans. Use of animal ivermectin for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19 in humans is dangerous," it said.
Ivermectin overdose can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, hypotension (low blood pressure), allergic reactions (itching and hives), dizziness, ataxia (problems with balance), seizures, coma and even death, the US FDA said.