Palace asks FDA to study Fabunan’s effectiveness vs. Covid-19

By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos

April 22, 2020, 2:52 pm

MANILA – Malacañang on Wednesday urged the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to study the effectiveness of the Fabunan anti-viral injection in curing the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the FDA should check if Fabunan is safe and effective for use in the treatment of Covid-19.

Bakit ba hindi napag-aralan ‘yung sinasabing anti-viral injection ni Fabunan at once and for all, magdeklara ang FDA -- ito ba ay safe to use or hindi (Why is there no study about the Fabunan anti-viral injection so that, once and for all, the FDA could declare if it is safe to use or not),” Roque said in an interview with state-run Radyo Pilipinas.

A now-deleted video that circulated on social media this month claimed that Fabunan, a patented anti-viral drug against dengue developed by Washington-based Filipino doctor Ruben Fabunan, has been “proven to be used to treat Covid-19” and is already an “approved” drug.

In an April 8 advisory, the FDA warned the public that no drug and vaccine has been licensed “specifically for use in Covid-19 treatment.”

Roque cited the need to conduct a study about the effectiveness of Fabunan to stop confusion among individuals who think that the drug can treat Covid-19.

“Habang hindi ginagawa at hindi nagdedeklara ng ganiyan ang FDA, palaging madaming maniniwala na baka ito (Fabunan) na nga ang lunas (So long as there is no official declaration from FDA, many will still believe that it is the cure),” he said. “So sabi ko pag-aralan na nga kung ano iyan at magkaroon na ng pronouncement ang FDA (So the FDA should study it and make a pronouncement).”

Roque said there should be a scientific basis that Fabunan can be used for Covid-19 treatment or prevention.

“Kinakailangan ay siyensiya pa rin ang umiral nang malaman natin kung iyan ba ay banta o mabuti sa kalusugan ng ating mga kababayan (There should be a scientific basis so we would know if it is good or bad for public health),” he said.

In a Facebook post on March 31, the Fabunan Medical Clinic clarified that the anti-viral injection is not commercially sold.

Following the circulation of viral social media posts about the anti-viral injection, the clinic said Fabunan is used “exclusively by the Fabunan Medical Clinic and its doctors in the practice of their profession.”

On Tuesday, Roque announced that Duterte is offering a PHP10-million reward to any Filipino who could develop a vaccine against Covid-19.

The President, he said, would also give the University of the Philippines - Philippine General Hospital a “substantial grant” to develop a vaccine.

During his intervention at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ Plus Three Summit on April 15, Duterte said the Philippines is ready to join other countries in conducting clinical trials of Avigan, a Japanese anti-viral drug, for the potential treatment of Covid-19.

Research studies at Wuhan University and other institutions in China have disclosed that Avigan is seen as effective in treating Covid-19.

As of Tuesday, the Philippines has reported 6,599 Covid-19 infections, with 437 deaths and 654 recoveries.

Since appearing in Wuhan, China last December, the new coronavirus has spread to at least 185 countries and regions.

According to data compiled by the US-based Johns Hopkins University, worldwide Covid-19 infections have passed 2.5 million, with the death toll nearing 172,000, while almost 660,000 people have recovered. (PNA)