Not that he was promoting ivermectin, but President Rodrigo Duterte said the use of the anti-parasitic drug should be left to doctors and their patients.
During his pre-recorded public address which aired Saturday morning, the President acknowledged that some individuals have been taking ivermectin as a preventive drug against Covid-19 despite the repeated warnings of reputable medical organizations against its use.
“I leave it really to the doctor-patient relationship. If the doctor believes in good faith that it can help, and the patient also believes in his heart that he will get well, we leave it up to you to decide… I leave it up to your good discernment if you think it is the right thing to do,” he said.
“It’s hard to be blamed if it’s really effective and you will stop them despite testimonies and claims of some that they recovered [because of Ivermectin]. So, for some people, it would be quite a good gamble to embark on,” Duterte added.
However, he reminded the public that no study has been published in a medical journal yet to prove ivermectin’s safety and efficacy in curing Covid-19.
The Department of Science and Technology is set to begin this month the clinical trials on the safety and effectiveness of ivermectin in treating Covid-19 patients.
The trials, expected to run for eight months, would note how ivermectin reduces symptoms or length of hospital admission among trial participants compared to other treatments being used.
In June, Duterte ordered the speedy completion of the study on the efficacy of the controversial drug for coronavirus treatment.
The President, for the meantime, said he would rely on the recommendation of experts pending “definite” findings on ivermectin’s use.
“Everything is in quandary. They have different claims, but there are no actual, definite findings yet,” he said. “Since I am with the government, I am a worker of government, I rely on the work and the narratives of the government sector.”
At present, the Philippines’ Food and Drug Administration is allowing the compassionate use of ivermectin for Covid-19 patients to at least six hospitals.
The permit was neither a license for commercial use and large-scale distribution nor an FDA’s endorsement of the drug’s safety and efficacy.
The registered ivermectin products allowed for general use in the country were limited for certain animal species to treat internal and external parasites, as well as prevention of heartworm disease.
Health experts have expressed concern over the drug’s risks and potential side effects to humans, which include hypotension or low blood pressure, allergic reactions, seizures, coma, and even death.
The World Health Organization, the United States FDA, the European Medicine Agency, and even Ivermectin manufacturer
Merck have all said there is lack of data and evidence on its efficacy and benefits for Covid-19 prevention and treatment.