House leader lectures cops on arrest order vs illegal sale, use of Ivermectin

Published April 8, 2021, 8:00 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

A House official advocating for the use of Ivermectin for COVID-19 treatment has called out the Philippine National Police (PNP) for ordering the arrest of persons involved in the illegal sale and use of the anti-parasitic drug.

House deputy speaker and Bagong Henerasyon Party-list Representative Bernadette Herrera on Thursday, April 8, slammed the PNP for issuing an order to its units to arrest individuals who have been unlawfully distributing and using Ivermectin.

“Ivermectin is not an illegal drug,” Herrera said in a statement.

“You cannot ban its use. It is our right to take care of ourselves as we fit it,” said the legislator, who earlier disclosed that she, too, is taking the drug as prescribed by her doctor.

In a copy of the memo dated April 6, 2021 and shared by Herrera to reporters, the PNP-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) said the move is in compliance with President Duterte’s directive during a “private meeting” last March 24.

The President told the PNP, in coordination with the FDA, to apprehend illegal sellers and users and confiscate the drugs subject to existing laws and regulations.

Some lawmakers and doctors are pushing for the use of Ivermectin against COVID-19, although the Department of Health (DOH), Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and even the World Health Organization (WHO) already said that its efficacy as an anti-viral medication for humans has yet to be proven in clinical studies.

Currently, Ivermectin is widely used in veterinary medicine. Only topical Ivermectin drugs are registered before the FDA for human use.

Its use as a COVID-19 drug, on the other hand, is not yet authorized in the Philippines. While it allows the compounding of Ivermectin, the FDA said doctors and pharmacists shall be responsible for drugs that will be dispensed to the public.

Herrera, however, said she doubts that Duterte issued the directive, insisting that Ivermectin is not a prohibited drug.

“How can Ivermectin be illegal when compounding laboratories are actually allowed to produce and sell it?” she asked. 

“Eh siyempre naman, ‘yong for human grade na ivermectin ang gagamitin ng mga tao (Of course, only the human-grade Ivermectin will be used by people),” she clarified later.

She said she spoke to PNP chief Gen. Debold Sinas and CIDG head Police Major Albert Ferro who supposedly assured her that the memorandum will be recalled and clarified.

The DOH earlier pointed out that under the Republic Act No. 9711 or the FDA Act of 2009, the “manufacture, importation, distribution, exportation, sale, offering for sale, transfer, promotion and advertising or sponsorship of health products without proper authorization of the FDA is prohibited.”

Only health care professionals are authorized to prescribe medicines to patients, DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire also said.

Earlier, Anakalusugan Party-list Rep. Mike Defensor, another proponent of the use of Ivermectin, announced that he will be giving away free Ivermectin doses to residents of Quezon City. He said recipients must first present a doctor’s prescription before getting it.