President Duterte is crossing his fingers that a common anti-parasitic medication could help lessen the risk of getting the coronavirus disease.
In a televised address Wednesday, the President admitted he was hoping for favorable outcome of the studies on Ivermectin as a possible “palliative” or “preventive” drug against the coronavirus. He even dropped hints about his readiness to try the medication if it gets the approval of the country’s drug regulators.
Duterte made the remarks after asking Food and Drug Administration Director General Enrique Domingo on how soon the studies on the use of ivermectin as potential COVID-19 treatment will be completed. Domingo told the President that results of the studies may be known in one or two months.
“I am praying that Ivermectin could be of use to maski ano na lang, palliative na ma — hindi ka mahawa kaagad (even as a palliative so you won’t be easily infected),” he said during his remarks aired on government television Wednesday, May 5.
“There has to be an effect in that thing there that is being introduced into your body kasi kung for preventive mayroon ka, kung maglabas ‘yan that’s what also I am hoping that it will turn out that way that we can use it,” he added.
Duterte then mentioned the possibility of trying the medication if studies would prove it can be used for COVID-19 prevention. “Ako ang maunang mag-ano because inumin mo para ano ka ‘yong at least preventive (I’ll be the first.. because once you drink it, at least it can be preventive),” he added.
The FDA earlier advised the public against the use of Ivermectin to prevent or treat coronavirus due to lack of data to support its safety and efficacy.
Six hospitals however have been given compassionate special permit to use Ivermectin for COVID-19 treatment. Two lawmakers have likewise been giving away free Ivermectin capsules to their constituents.
In his remarks Wednesday, Duterte said thousands of people were also waiting for the positive result of the clinical studies on the use of Ivermectin. He noted that many doctors have already attested to the efficacy of the medication.
“If there are doctors willing to put out their neck on the chopping board, ipusta nila ang integrity nila, so there has to be some truth in it, or at least ang medisina or whatever it is, has an effect in fighting COVID or building the antibodies in your system,” he said.
He then asked Domingo if he knew of “an iota of success” about Ivermectin as COVID-19 treatment.
The FDA chief maintained that it was prudent to wait for the completion of the studies to get clearer evidence on the effect of Ivermectin. He noted that some studies would show benefits while others does not. “Kung may benefit man po ay medyo maliit lang po ‘yong benefit niya (If there is a benefit, it’s probably small). It’s not a miracle drug,” Domingo informed the President.
He also promised to update the President as soon as the results of the clinical studies on Ivermectin use are released.
Duterte expressed hope that doctors backing Ivermectin would not be ignored.
“I hope they would take place a little bit of an importance to those doctors who really I said who went out to proclaim the efficacy of Ivermectin for COVID use,” he added.