Duterte pushed for ivermectin clinical trial vs. COVID-19 – FDA

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 20) — President Rodrigo Duterte has personally ordered to hold clinical trials in the country for the use of antiparasitic drug ivermectin on COVID-19 patients, according to Food and Drug Administration Director General Eric Domingo.

The FDA chief on Tuesday said the President gave the orders to the Departments of Health and Science and Technology to determine if the drug originally prescribed to treat animals can be used on humans infected with COVID-19.

The order came despite repeated warnings from the FDA and DOH that there is not enough evidence on the drug's efficacy against the virus. Experts also said high doses of it could cause brain damage or even death.

"Si Presidente po mismo ang nag-utos noong Huwebes sa DOST at DOH na aralin," Domingo told a media briefing. "Kasi marami din siyang naririnig at nababalitaan na may mga sumusuporta at meron ding siyentipikong nagsasabing kulang pa ang ebidensya. So inutos niya talaga sa pamahalaan na aralin na rin."

[Translation: The President himself gave the order to DOST and DOH last Thursday. He has heard from many supporters and experts in the medical field who are saying there needs to be more evidence.]

Domingo revealed that the DOST explained there are already several trials globally that are expected to be completed in the next few weeks, but the President insisted.

"Kaya lang, si Presidente, gusto niya talaga sigurong subukan sa ating mga Pilipino kaya inutos niya sa DOST na aralin din sa atin," the regulatory chief said.

[Translation: However, the President probably wanted to try it out on Filipinos so he ordered the DOST to look into it.]

The DOST is leading the clinical trials on ivermectin. Dr. Aileen Wang of the Philippine General Hospital was tasked to spearhead the trials that will involve quarantine centers near the healthcare facility. The DOH has already allocated funds for the program.

The President's order is a deviation from previous pronouncements. The government on April 10 said it has no plans to conduct clinical trials to determine the efficacy of the anti-parasitic drug against the coronavirus since similar studies are ongoing in other parts of the world.