Ivermectin is a medication that treats some parasitic diseases. There are two types of medication, doctors prescribe it to treat diseases such as head lice, scabies, river blindness, strongyloidiasis, trichuriasis, ascariasis, and lymphatic filariasis for people, while veterinarians prescribe it to treat heartworms and acariasis for animals.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a statement last March 31, 2021 about the use of the drug to treat Covid-19.
“The current evidence on the use of ivermectin to treat COVID-19 patients is inconclusive. Until more data is available, WHO recommends that the drug only be used within clinical trials” said in the statement.
According to a press release of the Department of Health (DOH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last April 30, 2021, both government departments strongly advise against the use of ivermectin due to lack of scientific evidence.
“We have said this many times before and we will say it again. We do not recommend the use of ivermectin for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 as the benefits of this antiparasitic drug for this purpose has not been established. President Rodrigo Duterte has also ordered DOST PCHRD to conduct a clinical trial to test the efficacy of ivermectin against COVID-19, let’s wait for the results,” FDA Director General Rolando Enrique Domingo said.
Meanwhile, the Concerned Doctors and Citizens of the Philippines (CDCPH) has the current global meta-study that shows the effectiveness of Ivermectin in regards to curing COVID-19.
Dr. Rafael Castillo, a CDCPH member, said that as of July 10, 2021, global meta-analyses of a total 62 trials conducted by 585 scientists on 22,425 patients have shown some promising results. Castillo noted that based on the studies conducted, there was an 85% improvement among patients in 14 trials using the Ivermectin as prophylaxis, or as an action to prevent diseases. Castillo has also noted the results of the studies: a 74% improvement of 26 early treatment trials; a 46% improvement in 22 late treatment trials; a 69% improvement in curbing mortality; and a 62% improvement among patients with various stages of COVID-19 infections in 32 randomized controlled trials.
In a pre-recorded talk to the people by President Rodrigo Duterte on September 12, 2021, that he would let anyone take a gamble in terms of trying the effectiveness of Ivermectin against COVID-19.
“I leave it really to the doctor-patient relationship. If the doctor believes in good faith that it can help and the patient also believes in his heart that he will get well, we leave it up to you to decide,” Duterte said.
“Kasi mahirap naman masisi na kung totoo talagang effective tapos pipigilan mo with the testimony bound, plus ‘yung maraming taong nagsabi na gumaling sila,“ he added.
The FDA has allowed the compassionate use of Ivermectin for COVID-19 patients in some hospitals despite its clinical trial stage.
“Mayroon na po kaming na-grant dahil ang Ivermectin ay isang investigational product, at alam natin may mga clinical trials ongoing dito para gamitin against COVID-19,” FDA Director General Eric Domingo stated a press briefing.
The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Fortunato de la Peña said recruitment of human participants for the clinical trials on the use of Ivermectin in the Philippines will start on October 15, 2021, and will last for 8 months, which the government has allocated P22 million.
Despite the promising results from the meta-study of Concerned Doctors and Citizens of the Philippines, the use of ivermectin as a cure for COVID-19 is still not approved and we have to wait for the results of the human trials to guarantee that ivermectin is safe and effective.