PH hosts melatonin trial for COVID-19 treatment

By Dhel Nazario

The country will host the first global trial to explore the effectiveness and safety of using high doses of the sleep-aid supplement melatonin to COVID-19 patients, the Department of Science and Technology - Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD) said on Monday.

The Manila Doctors Hospital (MDH), with support from the Department of Science and Technology - Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD) will conduct the project: “Melatonin as Adjuvant treatment for COVID-19 in Patients Requiring hospitalization (MAC19 PRO): A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial (RCT).”

According to DOST-PCHRD, the study seeks to probe whether administering high doses of melatonin (hdM) will lessen the need for intubation or ventilation support of hospitalized COVID-19 patients and ultimately improve the survival rate against the infection.

"The study will be the first RCT worldwide which will explore the effectiveness and safety of using hdM as adjuvant therapy on top of standard therapy in hospitalized patients with COVID-19 pneumonia," the agency said.

It noted that the COVID-19's severity increases once pneumonia sets in.

As an adjuvant therapy, melatonin will be used alongside the primary or main treatment of diseases much like chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, among others.

“We are aiming to build on the use of melatonin as a commonly available supplement to support our fight against COVID-19,” DOST-PCHRD Executive Director Jaime Montoya said.

“If the project proves to be successful, we may be able to de-escalate COVID-19 cases better, and possibly reduce the mortality rate of the infection,” he added.

The project's pilot study has been accepted for publication in the Melatonin Research Journal, which observed that patients given with hdM showed faster clinical improvement. The article will be released next month.

With support from DOST-PCHRD, the project will run for four months in selected hospitals in Metro Manila and Cebu City.

The project will be undertaken by a team from Manila Doctors Hospital led by Dr. Rafael Castillo and will involve 350 patients. DOST Secretary Fortunato dela Peña said that trials will start anytime now.