No significant effect: Ivermectin not recommended for treating COVID-19 - DOH, FDA

No significant effect on symptom resolution and hospitalization rates has been shown by the anti-parasitic drug Ivermectin making it an inadvisable treatment against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Ivermectin pills (Photo courtesy of IndiaMart via PNA)

In a statement on Monday, Feb. 21, the Department of Health (DOH), together with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reiterated that it does not recommend the use of Ivermectin as treatment for COVID-19 citing recently published scientific journal articles stating that it did not reduce the risk of developing severe disease.

"The study of Lim, C.L. et al (2022) demonstrated that Ivermectin treatment during early illness did not prevent progression to severe disease. In line with this, the study of Hill, A. et al (2022) showed that some of the studies involved in previous meta-analyses suggesting significant benefits of Ivermectin for COVID-19, were found to have methodology concerns that could potentially result into outcomes bias, coupled with ethical and plagiarism issues, thus the need for more quality protocols in evaluating clinical trials," DOH said.

It added that according to the FDA, the only registered oral and intravenous preparations for Ivermectin are veterinary products, and are only approved for use to prevent heartworm disease and treat internal and external parasites.

The currently available for human use in the Philippines is in topical formulation, which is used to treat head lice and skin conditions such as rosacea.

Meanwhile, a Compassionate Special Permit (CSP) allows physicians or hospitals to use unregistered medical products for limited off-label use. Only specialized institutions or speciality societies are allowed to file a request for CSPs.

DOH clarified that it is not against the use of investigational drugs. However, the discovery of new products, drugs, vaccines, medical devices among other health innovations undergoes a rigorous process prior to its approval and use.

"Scientific evidence is necessary to proceed to the next steps of the process which include a series of evaluations and clinical trials to prove its efficacy and safety for the human population," it said.

"Rest assured that we uphold the highest standards of scientific rigor to ensure that only the most effective and safe interventions are used in the fight against COVID-19," it added.