Ex-health chief on permit to use ivermectin: ‘Political accommodation’
MANILA, Philippines—The issuance to an unnamed hospital of a compassionate use permit (CUP) for the use of the drug ivermectin in COVID-19 treatment was more of a “political, rather than a medical” decision, according to a former secretary of health on Thursday (April 8).
Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin, in a statement, said the issuance by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the permit for the use of ivermectin in treating COVID-19 “seems to be more of a political accommodation than a medical decision.”
“This is a big joke,” she said in Filipino.
This kind of permit allows the use of unregistered drugs although it does not mean FDA recommendation for effectivity.
The CUP was issued despite the Department of Health and FDA saying that they do not recommend the use of ivermectin for COVID-19 care as evidence does not support claims of effectivity.
“Our FDA should not be like this,” Garin said in Filipino. “Decisions should always be backed up by science,” she said.
“We are dealing with public health,” said Garin, who was health secretary under former President Benigno Aquino III, President Rodrigo Duterte’s predecessor.
“Anti-parasitic drug for animals being transformed into anti-viral medicine for humans?” said Garin, a medical doctor. “It’s like saying ants and rats are the same. They likened skin diseases of dogs or cats with COVID-19,” she said.
She appealed to business owners and entrepreneurs not to take advantage of people’s “desperation” for a COVID-19 cure.
“Viral illnesses are self-limiting,” said Garin.
“Many people recover on their own unless complications set in because of existing comorbidities,” she said, referring to a condition in which one or two other diseases are present in a COVID-19 patient.
“Let’s not deceive the people,” Garin said. “Let’s not abuse or use as capital the fear that our people feel because of COVID-19,” she said.
Garin pointed out that compassionate use meant “access is a potential pathway for a patient with an immediate and urgent life-threatening condition or serious disease when no other option is available.”
“Therefore you give it to dying patients where risks of an experimental drug are outweighed by the current situation of the patient,” she said. “It’s like no choice na. Last resort,” she added.
“Ivermectin was a revolutionary drug in the 1980s for veterinary use,” Garin said.
“Right now, it’s still under critical trial,” she said. “WHO recommends that the use of ivermectin to treat COVID-19 be within the bounds of clinical trials because current evidence on it is inconclusive,” she said, referring to World Health Organization.
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