The House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability yesterday approved a motion to formally write a letter to the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC), the Department of Health (DOH), and the Office of the President (OP) to recommend a stop in the investigation of doctors prescribing the anti-parasitic drug ivermectin to COVID-19 patients.
Deputy Speaker Bernadette Herrera made the motion during the committee hearing into the alleged red tape in the processing of new drugs by the DOH and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Herrera urged the PRC to stop looking into revoking the licenses of doctors prescribing ivermectin as a treatment for Covid-19. The PRC is investigating doctors who took part in a medical mission in Quezon City in April.
“I strongly move that we strongly recommend to the PRC to stop looking into revoking the licenses our doctors who are prescribing ivermectin due to lack of evidence on their part. They just want to make this medicine accessible to everyone,” Herrera said.
The motion was approved after it was seconded by Rep. Rodante Marcoleta.
Rep. Mike Defensor of Anakalusugan Defensor and Rep. Rodante Marcoleta of SAGIP distributed the controversial drug in Quezon City as a possible “cure” for COVID-19. Defensor and Marcoleta are not doctors. During the distribution, people were asked to sign waivers, which Defensor said was “standard practice.”
At yesterday’s hearing Defensor said, “Ang point ko lang, given the emergency na maraming namamatay and given the country’s experiences, hindi ba tama na sugalan na natin because anyway, wala naman pong aprubado na preventive, wala naman pong aprubado for mild and moderate?”
Ivermectin has not been proven to be effective against COVID. In February, Merck, the maker of ivermectin, and the US FDA said in separate statements that there is no scientific basis it can help treat COVID patients.
Dr. Benigno Agbayani Jr., a proponent of the anti-parasitic drug and president of the Concerned Doctors and Citizens of the Philippines, said that in the past few weeks of prescribing ivermectin, the only side effect reported by some patients was dizziness, which is not an adverse effect.
Dr. Allan Landrito, a compounder and ivermectin advocate, told the House that the drug does not have detrimental effects. His said his patients experienced mild allergies, diarrhea, and abdominal pain only once or twice.
Landrito also claimed that his success in terms of prophylaxis is about 99% last year. In terms of early treatment, he said that his success is 89%; with the arrival of new variants in the country, he asserted it’s about 90%; and with early treatment about 80%.
However, some doctors emphasized that more clinical trials have yet to be done to ensure the safety of patients. Dr. Antonio Dans, a professor at the University of the Philippines College of Medicine, said that even if ivermectin’s effects are sound, the evidence is still insufficient and questionable. “If you look at all the meta-analyses on ivermectin, whether done by the proponents or not, they all agree that there were less deaths on ivermectin but that the evidence is poor.”