There’s insufficient proof that Ivermectin can be used as COVID-19 treatment, experts say

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 31) — There is not enough evidence showing the anti-parasitic drug ivermectin can be used to treat COVID-19, local infectious disease experts said.

“There is insufficient evidence to recommend the use of ivermectin for the treatment of patients with COVID-19 infection,” the Philippine Society of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases or PSMID said in its Philippine COVID-19 Living Recommendations report published on Wednesday. 

Based on a review of six randomized controlled trials, ivermectin did not reduce the risk of mortality among patients with mild to severe COVID-19 symptoms, or “improve other clinical outcomes,” PSMID earlier said.

Dr. Edsel Salvana of the Department of Health’s Technical Advisory Group, citing a study, previously said that while ivermectin is generally safe, “at the doses required for possible antiviral activity, it can cause brain damage.”

Rabindra Abeyasinghe, the World Health Organization’s representative to the Philippines, has advised against the use of ivermectin for COVID-19 prevention or treatment, adding further studies are needed to determine if it works against coronavirus.

The Department of Health is also of the belief there is insufficient basis to allow the use of ivermectin to prevent and treat COVID-19.

“Nagbigay na sila ng rekomendasyon, based on systematic analysis… nakita nila na wala pa sa ngayon na merong significant na positive outcome ang ivermectin dito sa mga taong sinalang nila for clinical trials,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said Wednesday in a briefing, referring to local experts.

[Translation: Our experts have given their recommendation. Based on their systematic analysis, they did not see significant positive outcomes on participants of clinical trials involving ivermectin.]

Vergeire made the remark after some lawmakers during a House hearing on Tuesday pushed for the conduct of local studies to know if ivermectin can treat COVID-19. Anakalusugan Rep. Mike Defensor said several people, including himself, have taken ivermectin and reportedly felt better because of it.

Dr. Allan Landrito revealed in the same hearing he had sold ivermectin, which he “compounded” himself, to thousands of patients despite the absence of regulatory approval. Landrito said he is applying to be a pharmaceutical trader of ivermectin.

Vergeire expressed hopes people who are taking ivermectin would not have a “false sense of confidence” that they are already protected against COVID-19.

The FDA earlier warned the public not to take ivermectin, saying taking animal drugs can cause them harm.

The FDA said oral ivermectin products in the country are only approved for use on animals to prevent heartworm disease and treat infections caused by parasites. The agency added doctors can prescribe topical ivermectin products to individuals with head lice and skin conditions such as rosacea, which causes redness and visible blood vessels on the face.
Meanwhile, infectious diseases expert Dr. Benjamin Co told CNN Philippines that there are ongoing clinical trials to prove the effectivity of ivermectin among humans, especially in treating COVID-19 patients.

Meanwhile, infectious diseases expert Dr. Benjamin Co told CNN Philippines that there are ongoing clinical trials to prove the effectiveness of ivermectin among humans, especially in treating COVID-19 patients.

Co stated that ivermectin has a human formulation drug that is being used in other countries, but such medication is not approved by the Philippine FDA.

"The proof is still not yet there, but it may still see some potential," Co said.