AFP chief withdraws request for unregistered drug from Chinese envoy
MANILA, Philippines — The defense establishment sees nothing wrong with Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff Gen. Felimon Santos Jr. making a personal request, using his official letterhead, to the Chinese embassy in Manila for a new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) medicine that he can give to his infected “close friends.”
Santos confirmed that he sent the undated letter on Friday (April 24) but claimed he withdrew his “personal” request for five boxes of Carrimycin tablets on Sunday (April 26) upon learning that the medicine had not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The letter, which apparently leaked from the Chinese embassy and found its way to social media, saw the AFP chief of staff asking the ambassador for help in procuring the medicine which, he believed, helped him recover from the respiratory disease.
Santos tested positive for COVID-19 on March 27 and recovered on April 5.
In a statement on Tuesday, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said, “I see nothing wrong with General Santos’ writing a letter to the Chinese ambassador [Huang Xilian] for assistance to procure Carrimycin tablets, a cure for COVID-19 available only in China, for his friends who are infected with COVID-19.”
According to Lorenzana, “General Santos was infected with COVID-19 and, although asymptomatic, went through the fear and anguish of being infected with a deadly virus. One of the medicines he took was Carrymicin, which was given to him by a Filipino-Chinese friend and accordingly this medicine is controlled by the Chinese government. What is wrong with wanting to help those infected with COVID-19?”
As this developed, the Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday warned that charges may be filed against those found to have administered to patients a purported vaccine for COVID-19 that is making the rounds on social media, especially that this remains to be an unregistered drug.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that as of Tuesday, the FDA has yet to receive any application for product registration from the makers of “Fabunan Antiviral Injection,” a purported vaccine for COVID-19 being peddled on Facebook.
“They are saying that this is a vaccine. We’ve told them to apply with FDA so we could understand how it works, but until now they haven’t applied,” Vergeire told reporters in a virtual press briefing.
“But we warn them and those who will try out a new drug that this should first be registered with FDA. They cannot administer this to the public without studies showing its safety,” she added.
On the “Fabunan Antiviral Injection” Facebook page, there are testimonials of alleged COVID-19 patients who swore to the drug’s effectiveness.
The World Health Organization (WHO) earlier said that across the world there were only six candidate vaccines for COVID-19. WHO Philippines acting representative Socorro Escalante stressed though that it might still take between a year and a year and a half for any of these vaccines to be available to the public.INQ
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