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Sotto mulls Senate probe on Ivermectin efficacy



To end the confusion once and for all, Senate President Vicente Sotto III is mulling to conduct a Senate investigation on the effectiveness of antiparasitic drug Ivermectin against the dreaded coronavirus.

The probe Sotto said, will stem from a privilege speech he is “tempted” to make following the contradicting statements of critics and supporters of the controversial drug.

“Maybe it is better if he will have a hearing about this, later on when are session resume,” the senator told reporters in a virtual press briefing.

“If that is their way of thinking as far as the issue is concerned, I will be tempted to come up with a privilege speech about it so that a Senate committee hearing can be conducted thereafter,” he added.

The Senate leader, who previously admitted taking Ivermectin, exercised freedom of choice in explaining why he backs the medication.

He questioned the position of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the issue and added that it has been approved for use in other countries.

The state regulator has repeatedly warned the public against taking Ivermectin as its effectiveness against Covid-19 is yet to be proven.

“To each his own. There are countries that approve and use it. There are also doctors who recommend it and those who do not. It depends on where the doctor is slanted. I think,” Sotto said.

“The FDA has shortcomings. It is already approved in other countries yet they keep saying that they will study it. Maybe they already know something that we don’t,” he added.

Originally used as treatment for parasitic infections, Ivermectin has been in the center of heated medical debate regarding its effect against coronavirus.

Patients and doctors who have tried it vouched for it but state health agencies have warned the public against it.

In refuting the use of the medication, former Health Secretary Dr. Esperanza Cabral said India is the biggest evidence on its false claims.

Cabral said Ivermectin is being used widely in the country but its government is now scrambling for vaccine supplies after the recent surge in coronavirus infections.

“That’s a proof that Ivermectin does not work because in a country that uses it the surge of Covid-19 has become uncontrollable,” she said in a television interview.

“Other thing is there are vaccines that have been proven time and again to work for certain disease and in the case of Covid-19 we have already proof of that in countries like Israel. I cannot understand how people will say let us not vaccinate people and take Ivermectin instead that is something that goes against logic,” she added.

The health official defended the political figures that are rallying for the medication saying that the intense lobbying may be “born out of desperation” to fight the deadly virus.

“I think a lot of them has good intentions. I am not saying that these politicians are being malicious in their promotion of Ivermectin. I think it is born of desperation because of the threat of Covid-19. But I also think that they have to temper their desperation with evidence,” she added.

Various medical groups including the Philippine Pharmacists Association criticized Congressmen Mike Defensor and Rodante Marcoleta for organizing a community pantry that distributes free Ivermectin capsules to patients in Quezon City.

The FDA gave its green light to the event given it will comply with the requirements set by its compassionate special permit but violations including invalid prescriptions from doctors present hound the pantry a day after.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III tasked the FDA to probe the said reports but the agency said only Congress has the disciplinary authority over the lawmakers.