House panel to probe use of Ivermectin as Covid-19 cure

By Filane Mikee Cervantes

March 29, 2021, 5:19 pm

MANILA – The House Committee on Health is set to conduct on Tuesday a congressional inquiry into the decision of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to disallow the use of an anti-parasitic drug called Ivermectin for prevention and treatment of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) infections.

The panel will tackle House Resolution No. 1684 filed by 1-PACMAN Party-list Rep. Enrico Pineda, seeking an explanation from the FDA regarding its decision to prevent the use of Ivermectin despite its potential and promise as a drug treatment for the virus in other countries.

It also urged Congress to enact regulations that will ensure the FDA and the Department of Health (DOH) to consider all possible cures for Covid-19.

“The Committee on Health will hold a virtual public hearing on Tuesday because we want to know what causes the skyrocketing spike in cases, we want to know the status of the government’s contact tracing efforts, and we want to know what treatments are available out there so we can save as many patients as possible from this deadly disease,” Committee on Health Chair Angelina Tan said.

Pineda said there are actual studies and publications endorsing the effectivity of Ivermectin as treatment for those infected with Covid-19 virus.

Citing clinical trials conducted in many countries, Pineda said Ivermectin was found to reduce the effects of Covid-19 on infected patients when used with vitamins and supplements.

“While we understand the prudence being exercised by the FDA, this is quite an unprecedented international health emergency,” Pineda said. “Perhaps we should do more exhaustive studies before dismissing what could potentially be a life-saving drug.”

Pineda said Ivermectin is also considered cost-effective compared to other repurposed Covid-19 drugs, such as Remdesivir, which costs PHP28,000 per vial and must be administered twice daily until such time that the patient is discharged.

“Ivermectin costs only around PHP35, to be administered once daily for three days -- totaling to just a little over PHP100,” Pineda said.

He said Ivermectin has shown so much potential and 22 percent of the world, including India, South Africa and Latin American countries, is already utilizing it as Covid-19 treatment and prevention.

Anakalusugan Party-list Rep. Mike Defensor also filed a resolution regarding the possible use of Ivermectin against Covid-19.

Defensor said the DOH and FDA should consider giving enough leeway for medical practitioners to try other investigational drugs which would have enough evidence to support their use, such as Ivermectin, especially in the context of a massive surge in Covid-19 cases.

“Another investigational drug which we should study allowing in the fight against Covid-19 is Ivermectin,” Defensor said.

Defensor said the drug is in the World Health Organization’s and Philippine National Formulary’s list of essential medicine. (PNA)