DOH, PRC under fire from House over ivermectin issue

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The House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability on Monday approved a motion to formally write a letter to the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC), the Department of Health (DOH), and the Office of the President (OP) to stop the investigation into the alleged illegal distribution of anti-parasitic drug ivermectin as treatment for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

Deputy Speaker Bernadette Herrera of Bagong Henerasyon party-list made the motion during the committee hearing into the alleged questionable guidelines and policies of the DOH and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that hamper public health service delivery to the Filipino people.

Herrera particularly urged the PRC to stop looking into the revocation of licenses of doctors prescribing the use of ivermectin as a treatment for Covid-19.

The investigation concerns doctors who took part in a medical mission in Quezon City and prescribed the unregistered drug to the patients.

“I strongly move that we strongly recommend to the PRC to stop looking into revoking the licenses our doctors who are prescribing ivermectin due to lack of evidence on their part. They just want to make this medicine accessible to everyone,” Herrera said.

The motion was approved by the committee after it was seconded by Deputy Speaker Rodante Marcoleta of 1 SAGIP party-list.

The Quezon City local government is not endorsing the anti-parasitic drug ivermectin being distributed by two congressmen.

In an interview over news channel ANC last week, Mayor Joy Belmonte said the debate on the use of ivermectin should remain within the medical realm to prevent it from being a political issue.

“I think this is up to the regulating bodies. I want them to call them out. If they call them out for example, itong national government agency, sabihin na (if the national government agency says that) Mayor Joy, do something about this, order your police officers to do something about this, definitely I will do that,” Belmonte said.

Marcoleta and Anakalusugan Party-list Rep. Mike Defensor have been leading the distribution of ivermectin to some QC residents, whom they say are “those in dire need” of treatment.

The FDA said as of the moment, human use of the anti-parasitic medication is for topical purposes only, not for 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,” a previous FDA statement read.

The Philippine Medical Association (PMA) supported the FDA.

“The PMA stands by the policy statements of the Food and Drug Administration, Department of Health and the World Health Organization that current evidence on the use of ivermectin in the treatment of Covid-19 is inconclusive,” the PMA said.

The DOH has committed P22 million for clinical trials on the use of ivermectin.

Clinical trials are expected to start by June, which would run for eight months.

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