MANILA – A third hospital has been granted a compassionate special permit (CSP) to use the anti-parasitic drug Ivermectin as a treatment for the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) confirmed on Thursday.

During the hearing of the House committee of good government and public accountability, FDA Director General Eric Domingo said the unnamed health facility received the permit allowing the use of the mainly veterinary drug to treat their Covid-19 patients on Wednesday.

“Sa ngayon po mayroon pa pong na-approve na isang hospital kahapon (As of now, one hospital received [CSP] approval yesterday),” Domingo said.

The CSP is valid for one year and can only be used by doctors of these hospitals.

Deputy Speaker Bernadette Herrera, during the same hearing, urged the FDA to widen the list of drugs for emergency use to give doctors more choices as to the treatment they will give their Covid-19 patients.

“Our goal should always be for Covid-19 treatment protocols and prevention accessible and affordable to Filipinos,” Herrera said.

She also told the FDA to look into the national guidelines on the registration of pharmaceutical products and suspend using the stringent Asean guidelines that have made it extremely difficult for drug manufacturers to register their products in the Philippines.

Meanwhile, Herrera called on the FDA and Department of Health to strengthen the capacity of local drug manufacturers to address the pharmaceutical needs of the public, especially in times of national health emergencies.

She said the FDA’s establishment of Covid-19 protocols would be for naught if the recommended drugs are not going to be made available to the public.

“We will only create despair to the FIlipino people when we say ‘o, eto yung magpapagaling sa iyo pero walang available sa bansa natin,’” Herrera said. “Ang sa akin, the question should also be, ‘do we have access to these drugs?’”

Herrera emphasized that in times of national health emergencies such as the one the country is currently having with the presence of a pandemic, it is crucial that government agencies provide the citizens with all the resources they will need.

She noted that this becomes more apparent as first-world nations have become top priorities of pharmaceutical industries, leaving third-world nations in the dark in terms of availability of potentially life-saving drugs.

“We have to look into our own resources because we have to be self-sufficient,” she said. “The number one responsibility is to look into our very own resources and to make use of those.” (PNA)