Multi-awarded Filipino artist and actor Gary Valenciano admitted that he, too, is considering to take anti-parasitic drug ivermectin as a protection against the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Attending a webinar last Monday, April 12, Valenciano said he is weighing the advantages and disadvantages of taking the drug amid debates on its use for COVID-19 treatment and prevention.
He said his wife, Angeli Pangilinan, is also taking Ivermectin. Pangilinan had tested positive for COVID-19 last March.
“I’m trying to stay heaIthy, because the vaccine is not yet with me. I can get some Ivermectin — I think my wife has some — but I was always weighing the pros and cons and I’m thankful that everybody asks the questions that needed to be asked, ’cause it kinda settled and answered some of the questions I didn’t even have in mind initially,” Valenciano said.
The webinar was hosted by the Concerned Doctors and Citizens of the Philippines (CDC-PH), and was attended by lawmakers who have been advocating for the use of Ivermectin to cure and prevent COVID-19.
The Department of Health (DOH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) were careful about approving the said drug for viral infections in humans. Experts have yet to find “strong evidence” that ivermectin can cure COVID-19, the FDA said.
At present, Ivermectin is registered as an animal drug and only as a topical medication for skin conditions of humans.
The World Health Organization (WHO) also warned against its use, pointing out the lack of clinical studies to prove its efficacy against COVID-19.
During the webinar, Valenciano consulted his doctor, pulmonologist Joseph Varon, about the safest dosage of ivermectim for people, especially those who have comorbidities like him.
Varon is one of the leaders of the Frontline COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC), a group of critical care physicians, which studies potential cure for the novel coronavirus infection.
The group is also pushing for the use of ivermectin in the United States, albeit criticism also among their peers, including the US’ FDA, Center for Disease Control, as well as the WHO, Varon admitted.
Varon, who calls himself a “COVID-19 Hunter”, said ivermectin has been effective for treating COVID-19 patients.
“But not just on treatment, also on the prevention, on the prophylaxis,” he said when asked by AnaKalusugan Party-list Representative Mike Defensor whether or not the drug is key in the fight against COVID-19.
“Yes, it’s for parasites, initially, but we have come to understand that ivermectin has amazing anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties,” he said. “Not even that, we have been using that for patients that have post-COVID syndrome…and it works.”
Varon urged the Philippine government to give free ivermectin for the prevention of COVID-19. “Give it in large quantities to everybody…That will decrease the cost of health care.”
The Texas-based doctor, however, maintained that vaccines, and not ivermectin, is the solution to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m not saying that ivermectin is the treatment, but ivermectin buys you time while the rest of the population gets vaccinated. Ivermectin is not the answer. The answer is to get the vaccine,” Varon said.
Valenciano, meanwhile, vouched for Varon’s expertise.
“[Dr. Varon] is known to be the ‘miracle doctor’ in that area, because of the way that he would conduct, the way he would work and find answers for patients that are really struggling to live,” he said.
So far, only one hospital has been allowed by the Philippines’ FDA to use ivermectin for COVID-19 patients. But it also permits the compounding of the drug in prescribed dosages.
The FDA maintained that its approval for the use of ivermectin will be based on merit and compliance to requirements.