THE Department of Health yesterday advised the public against using the anti-parasitic drug Ivermectin to treat the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Ivermectin is used to treat many types of parasite infestation among humans and animals.
Recently, some sectors are pushing for Ivermectin’s repurposing as a potential therapy for COVID-19 because of its anti-viral properties and immunomodulatory effects.
In an advisory, the DOH said there is no sufficient medical evidence to show Ivermectin can treat COVID-19.
“Based on the current evidence from randomized control trials, we do not recommend the use of Ivermectin for the treatment of COVID-19,” the DOH said.
“It has not been proven to significantly reduce mortality or improve other clinical outcomes,” it added.
Last week, the Food and Drug Administration warned the public against using Ivermectin veterinary products against COVID-19.
“Currently, the registered Ivermectin products in the country for human use are in topical formulations under prescription use only. This is used for the treatment of external parasites such as head lice and skin conditions such as rosacea,” it said in Advisory No. 2021-0526
The FDA also said the registered oral and intravenous preparations of Ivermectin are “veterinary products which are approved for use in animals for the prevention of heartworm disease and treatment of internal and external parasites in certain animal species.”
“The drug is an important part of a parasite control program for some animal species and should only be administered according to its approved indication, or as prescribed by a duly licensed veterinarian,” it said.
It also said: “Any use of Ivermectin veterinary products for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19 should be avoided as the benefits and safety for this purpose has not been established. Data from clinical trials are necessary to determine whether Ivermectin is safe and effective in treating or preventing COVID-19”.
The DOH said Ivermectin did not significantly reduce the risk of mortality among patients with mild to severe COVID-19.
It also said that Ivermectin was not associated with a definite benefit in terms of other clinically important outcomes, such as clinical improvement at Day 6-10, clinical deterioration, and need for mechanical ventilation.
The DOH also said Ivermectin did not significantly reduce the duration of hospitalization. It also said the rate of hospital discharge at Day 10-14 did not differ significantly between the Ivermectin group and the standard of care or placebo group.
The DOH also took note of adverse effects reported with the use of Ivermectin such as dizziness, headache, rash, and gastrointestinal symptoms.
While Ivermectin use is not being advised, the FDA yesterday said the anti-flu drug “Avigan” and anti-Ebola medicine “remdesivir” remain available for use by selected COVID-19 patients.
In a public briefing, FDA Director General Eric Domingo said remdesivir may be made available to COVID-19 patients after hospitals secure a compassionate special permit from the agency.
On the other hand, he said, Avigan is available to patients who are participating in DOH clinical trials “involving mild to moderate cases in hospitals.”
Domingo said the two are part of the clinical treatment guidelines issued by the Philippine Society on Microbiology and Infectious Diseases.