A doctor who advocated for the use of anti-parasitic drug ivermectin for coronavirus treatment claimed that the erroneous prescriptions given away to the public last week were an “honest mistake.”
Dr. Benigno “Iggy” Agbayani, head of Concerned Doctors and Citizens of the Philippines, who was also present during the drug’s free distribution last week, made this claim in a televised interview with CNN Philippines on April 30.
“I also forgot to write ‘ivermectin’ and the reason for that sa dami po ng reseta na nabigay ko, akala ko nalagay ko na yung ivermectin,” Agbayani said.
Called “Ivermectin pan-three,” Deputy Speaker Rodante Marcoleta (Sagip party-list) and Rep. Michael Defensor (Anakalusugan party-list) distributed unregistered doses to residents of a barangay in Quezon City last Thursday, April 29.
Doctors were reportedly present during the activity to provide prescriptions to recipients despite earlier warnings issued by health authorities against the drug in the context of COVID-19.
These supposed medical prescriptions, however, were placed under scrutiny for lacking required details such as names, signatures and license numbers of the physicians.
Amid glaring proofs that showed the errors in the prescriptions served, to Agbayani, these criticisms are a form of “nitpicking.”
“If you have nothing to say bad anymore, you can’t defend your position, Ivermectin is a controversial drug nalang. We know it works. It’s safe. And they will just find loopholes in the prescription.”
He also further claimed that critics were just looking for “loopholes” to harass ivermectin advocates.
“I think they’re just looking for loopholes just to try to harass us and things like that,” he said.
Amid these strong claims, when the reporter asked if he is an infectious disease specialist, Agbayani admitted he is not because he is an orthopedic surgeon.
But he insisted he “studied quite well” about the matter.
“No, absolutely not but I studied quite well. If you’re an orthopedic surgeon like me, you really have to study and prove your worth. So I actually work harder than most infectious disease doctors,” Agbayani said.
Dr. Gene Nisperos of the University of the Philippines perceived it absurd for a doctor to forget the details of a medical prescription.
“This is the same doctor who ‘apologized’ for ‘forgetting’ to write the NAME OF THE DRUG in his prescription! While the other prescriptions did not even have the name and license number of the prescribing doctors. Paano mo makakalimutan yon sa isang RESETA?!” Nisperos wrote.
Other users criticized him admitting that he is not an expert, yet continues to support Ivermectin’s use for COVID-19.
“Nahulog ata brain cells ko. (Face palm emoji),” one user said.
“I studied quite well din naman. Pero that doesn’t give me the authority to be stupid,” another user wrote.
One Reddit user, meanwhile, recalled that the organization Agbayani heads was previously involved in another controversial event in September last year.
“It also seems that this is the same Iggy Agbayani who co-founded that group Concerned Doctors and Citizens of the Philippines (CDC PH) that was cited by the DOH when it tried to stage a gathering calling for an early opening of the lockdown,” the user said.
Professional associations’ opposition
The Philippine Pharmacists Association joined other pharmacists and doctors who opposed the dispensing of the unregistered Ivermectin and the alleged serving of invalid prescriptions to patients.
In a statement, the associated cited that a valid prescription should contain the following:
- Date of issuance
- Patient’s information
- Physician’s information
- Drug name
- Drug strength
- Dosage form
- Quantity prescribed
- Direction for use
“An invalid prescription must not be served. A waiver signed by a patient cannot exonerate the prescriber or the pharmacist from the accountability in case of adverse drug reaction,” it said.
The Philippine Medical Association and the Philippine College of Physicians similarly expressed alarm over the distribution of a drug whose only available formulation in the Philippines is for animals.