More than 150 Pinoys join clinical trials for virus treatment
MANILA, Philippines — More than 150 Filipino COVID-19 patients have signed up for the global clinical trial of drugs that may be used as treatment for the severe respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus, President Rodrigo Duterte announced on Monday night.
In his ninth report to Congress on his administration’s response to the coronavirus crisis, Mr. Duterte said 24 Philippine hospitals were participating the “Solidarity” trial initiated by the World Health Organization (WHO) in a search for drugs that may be used in treating COVID-19 ahead of the development of a vaccine.
He said 157 Filipino COVID-19 patients had been enrolled in the trial.
Down to 3 drugs
Earlier, the government said up to 500 Filipino COVID-19 patients would be enrolled in the WHO trial.
The trial started with four drugs—the antimalarial hydroxychloroquine; remdesivir, under research for treatment of other coronaviruses; the anti-HIV drugs lopinavir and ritonavir or a combination of the two; and interferon.
On Monday, the WHO temporarily dropped hydroxychloroquine from its global study, saying its experts needed to review information in a paper published in the medical journal Lancet last week that said people taking the drug were at higher risk of death and heart problems.
The Department of Health (DOH) said on Tuesday it had stopped giving hydroxychloroquine to COVID-19 patients following the WHO’s suspension of the drug from the global trial. Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire announced the DOH decision but did not disclose the condition and number of COVID-19 patients who had been given hydroxychloroquine.
“We are in the clinical trial phase. But rest assured that we have stopped giving [hydroxychloroquine] as recommended by [the] WHO,” Vergeire told reporters.
In his televised address to the nation late on Monday, the President said the government had chosen two additional sites for the clinical trial of Avigan, or favipiravir, a Japanese-developed treatment for flu, as a possible drug for COVID-19.
The additional sites brought the number of trial centers for Avigan to five.
Mr. Duterte also reported that the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has reactivated its pharmaceutical division to work with drug makers in the development of a treatment for COVID-19.
He said the DOST division—the Industrial Technology Development Institute Pharmaceutical Development Center—would “undertake collaboration on preclinical trials, formulation, [manufacturing] and other aspects of drug development, gearing toward the Philippines’ self-sufficiency in COVID-19 treatment.”
—With a report from Jovic Yee