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MANILA – Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Fortunato de la Peña on Monday said recruitment of participants for the clinical trials on the use of ivermectin in the Philippines will start on Oct. 15.

De la Pena made this clarification after he erroneously indicated in his presentation during President Rodrigo Duterte’s prerecorded Talk to the People aired on Saturday that the recruitment will begin on Sept. 15.

"I told the President we can finish by February. We hope to get initial analysis by December 2021. We hope the project could be finished by February 2022," he said in a Viber message to the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

The memorandum of agreement between the DOST and the University of the Philippines (UP) Manila was signed last Aug. 17.

"There were revisions in methodology, still to be approved by the technical committee and the research ethics committee," he added.

He said the World Health Organization did not endorse ivermectin for Covid-19 use, but only for clinical trial purposes.

“The Philippine ivermectin clinical trials are justified because of varying results in different countries," de la Peña said.

Philippine clinical trials are internationally peer-reviewed and are aligned with the International Clinical Trial Consortium for ivermectin.

In a separate message to PNA, Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) executive director Jaime Montoya said the country will pursue the ivermectin clinical trial as this will provide local data with regard to the safety and efficacy of ivermectin.

"(It is also) to respond to the WHO's call to conduct quality clinical trials, because of the insufficiency of good evidence for use or non-use of ivermectin," Montoya said.

Earlier, Montoya said it would be good for the country to document the local experiences, how the participants would respond, and if there would be adverse effects.

Meanwhile, de la Peña said the Department of Health (DOH) requested and funded the ivermectin clinical trials, and it will be the DOH that will decide what actions to take when the study results are out.

"Clinical trials take some time. The (ivermectin clinical trial) is actually shorter than other projects because of simultaneous recruitment and short duration of treatment," he said.

The country eyes to include 1,464 participants, a combination of symptomatic and asymptomatic patients, according to de la Peña. (PNA)