DOH asked to explain preference for expensive COVID-19 treatment

Published May 6, 2021, 8:22 PM

by Ben Rosario

Deputy Speaker and 1Sagip Partylist Rep. Rodante Marcoleta has asked the Department of Health and other health professionals to explain their preference in prescribing Remdesivir notwithstanding the World Health Organization’s advisory against its use for people battling the deadly novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Marcoleta said officials of the DOH and the Food and Drug Administration should also make public disclosure of their links with the so-called Big Pharma, stressing that they should be forthright in telling the public which companies financed research grants, trips and funding of projects they initiated.

The House official aired the challenge as he chided the DOH for failing to heed the WHO advice against the use of Remdisivir, supposedly a COVID-19 treatment. He described it as a “highly priced drug’ that cost between P16,000 to P48,000 per shot.”

Marcoleta suspected that leading pharmaceutical firms have something to do with the critical stance of the country’s health authorities against the use of Ivermectin to prevent and cure COVID 19.

“Why is the company that manufactured Ivermectin belittling this drug today, in time for launching a similar drug, but with different name, in the market for a price that could assure them a windfall of profit?” he revealed in a statement issued recently.

Marcoleta, together with Anakalusugan Partylist Rep. Michael Defensor, came under fire from DOH officials and the Philippine College of Physicians for distributing last week free Ivermectin capsules in Quezon City.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said distribution of Ivermectin as possible treatment for COVID 19 is a violation of Republic Act No. 9711 or the Food and Drug Administration Act of 2009.

Last month, the FDA granted special permits to six hospitals to use Ivermectin on COVID-19 patients. However, the permit does not include the distribution of the said medication outside of the hospitals.

Marcoleta said the DOH or the FDA are free to investigate those involved in the QC distribution of Ivermectin, including the doctors who volunteered their services.

However, he challenged health officials to ask themselves why the event in Matandang Balara, Quezon City “happened in the first place.”

The House official explained that the Ivermectin event conveyed a clear message that the said agencies failed to grasp.

“It’s about helping people at the time when the very people tasked to do it are hesitating and dillydallying, when the time to act fast and decisively is wasted by complacency and indecision, when they refuse to improvise and be flexible and chose to stick to peacetime guidelines that do not apply in a war-like pandemic that we are all in”, the solon emphasized.