Another medical group advised the public against the use of anti-parasitic drug ivermectin after the House of Representatives started to probe the country’s Food and Drug Administration’s ban on this product’s use for coronavirus treatment.
In a statement posted on Tuesday evening, the Philippine Society of Public Health Physicians stressed that there are no studies yet that prove the pharmaceutical drug’s effectivity against the deadly virus.
The statement was initially released on March 19.
“Based on the current evidence from randomized control trials, we do not recommend the use of Ivermectin for the treatment of COVID-19. It has not been proven to significantly reduce mortality or improve other clinical outcomes,” the group said.
“This recommendation will be updated as more evidence is generated from ongoing trials,” it added.
— Philippine Society of Public Health Physicians (@psphpofficial) March 30, 2021
The anti-parasitic drug has anti-viral properties, the PSPHP pointed out, thus the reason why some people see the potential of it in coronavirus treatment.
“Ivermectin is an anti-helminthic (parasite worms) drug repurposed as a potential therapy for COVID-19 because of its anti-viral properties and immunomodulatory effects. Based on in vitro studies, it prevents viruses from suppressing the host’s antiviral response. As an immunomodulator, Ivermectin may reduce cytokine secretion,” it said.
Cytokine secretion is the fundamental response of cells to an injury and an infection of the human body.
The statement also included findings of some studies about Ivermectin for public discretion.
Similarly, in a House inquiry on the same day, the World Health Organization told the House Committee on Health that there are no significant data to prove that the product can be used for COVID-19 patients.
“We could assume that people who drink water are protected from COVID-19. We could assume that people who took Ivermectin are protected,” said Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, WHO representative to the Philippines.
“But that’s not evident [and] it needs to be statistically significant,” he added.
He also stressed that recommending its use without proof creates “false confidence” to the public.
“[But] without that proof, what we’re actually creating is a false confidence that if people take ivermectin, they’re going to be protected and that could actually be harmful,” Abeyasinghe said.
In the same inquiry, Rep. Mike Defensor (Anakalusugan party-list), also a COVID-19 survivor, reportedly took ivermectin and claimed to feel better after.
Some health workers criticized him on social media over the risks posed by his claims.
“I hope Defensor realizes the pressure and extra work he is placing on already overworked doctors by having to explain to patients that ivermectin isn’t that well studied,” one user wrote.
“Mistrust of the people with DOH and FDA + people desperate to find a solution to COVID-19 + congressmen who do not understand levels of evidence and would rather listen to two quacks = clamor for Ivermectin,” another user asid.
Meanwhile, Rep. Enrico Pineda (1-PACMAN party-list) filed a House resolution that demanded FDA’s explanation for its decision on ivermectin, despite the agency already providing such report in its advisory.
In their joint advisory, the Department of Health and the FDA said they do not recommend the purchase and use of ivermectin veterinary products against COVID-19, citing possible serious harm to humans.
“Using these products in humans can cause serious harm. Animal drugs are often highly concentrated and can be highly toxic to humans,” the agency said.
The FDA also pointed out that while there is ivermectin for humans, the medication is not used for the deadly pathogen.
“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,” it said.
The Philippine FDA’s counterpart in the United States also listed down potential severe side-effects to COVID-19 patients. These include skin rash, diarrhea and facial or limb swelling.