Health Secretary Francisco Duque III yesterday tasked the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to probe reports of invalid prescriptions given to patients for the anti-parasitic drug Ivermectin by a community pantry in Quezon City on Thursday.
The drug is not authorized for mass distribution in the country.
Duque said Congressmen Mike Defensor and Rodante Marcoleta — organizers of the so-called Community Pan-three — should have followed the FDA requirements on compassionate special permit (CSP) before they distributed the drug to many.
Among the requirements are prescriptions from doctors that contains information on the prescriber along with the patient’s name, age, sex, and date of prescription.
The prescriptions, however, were jotted down on bond paper (some claim even on tissue paper) that Duque called were “token prescription”.
“Part of what the FDA needs to do is investigate such reports,” Duque said in a television interview.
“The accountability is clear; it is the doctor who prescribed it who will answer for his action,” he added.
Despite criticisms on the legality of the event, two members of the House of Representatives proceeded in giving away free Ivermectin capsules to willing recipients on Thursday.
Defensor insisted that they are compliant with the standards set by the FDA, and said that he will “fight in the court” those who will block the event.
FDA Director-General Eric Domingo earlier gave green light to the community pantry but required the presence of doctors in the event.
At least three doctors from the Concerned Doctors and Citizens of the Philippines volunteered in the event.
“I am alarmed and concerned if that is indeed verified to be true but these are all speculations so we need evidence. There are laws and we must follow the mandates, we must follow the statutes,” Duque said.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Pharmacists Association (PPA) expressed concern on possible violations made during the distribution of Ivermectin in the said community pantry.
PPA President Gilda Saljay said several incidents at the event including the reported issuance of erroneous prescriptions as well as the unmonitored dispensing of the drug violated provisions of Republic Act 10918 or the “Pharmacy Law”.
She said pharmacists do not issue medication — especially those granted with CSP — using prescriptions with incomplete information.
The group also added that doctors are required to directly supervise patients who will take the drug as they are liable to them in case of side effects as per the mandated of the compassionate permit.
The Quezon City Health Department, meanwhile, asked the DoH to issue clear guidance on the use of Ivermectin.