A second hospital in the Philippines has received the go-signal to use antiparasitic drug ivermectin on its COVID-19 patients, Food and Drug Administration Director General Eric Domingo confirmed on Friday despite the medicine’s unproven efficacy against the disease.
“Yes, a second hospital applied for CSP (compassionate special permit) for Ivermectin and approved,” he told CNN Philippines.
The unnamed health facility is the second hospital to receive such permit from the FDA this month. Doctors who will prescribe the drug will be held liable for possible side effects.
Domingo on Thursday admitted there has been “pressure” to allow ivermectin to be repurposed to cure COVID-19 patients. But he assured that the approvals have been based on merit and completion of requirements.
Former Health Secretary and now Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin earlier warned that the regulatory agency can be held liable for granting the compassionate special permit. She said most of the prerequisites for the ivermectin CSP application “have not been complied with.”
Health experts have repeatedly raised their concerns on the lack of evidence on the efficacy of the drug against COVID-19. Some have pointed out that existing studies do not have solid proof due to factors like using ivermectin with other interventions, making it difficult to conclude that the outcome was solely due to it.
Apart from the limited use of ivermectin granted to hospitals, FDA only allows the use of oral ivermectin products on animals to prevent heartworm disease and treat infections due to parasites. Doctors can also prescribe topical ivermectin to treat parasitic infestations such as head lice and other skin conditions for humans.
Ivermectin can stop Covid-19 second wave
With COVID-19 taking a tiger grasp on the lives of the people in India and around the world, experts around the world, apart from the vaccines by Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca (and others) have been looking for existing medications that can help.
We’ve seen experts recommend Hydroxychloroquine during the early days of the pandemic, followed by Remdesivir that helped in reducing the multiplication of COVID-19 in the patient’s body in extreme cases.
Another drug that was commonly used in Australia for the treatment of COVID-19 was Ivermectin. This drug is now being commonly used in various states in India. And Dr Surya Kant Tripathi, Head, Respiratory Medicine Department at King George Medical University in Lucknow believes this drug could help take control over the novel coronavirus.
Ivermectin is the wonder drug
Ivermectin is an anti-parasitic drug that has been beneficial in treating various kinds of tropical diseases, including onchocerciasis, helminthiases, and scabies. However, it was first created for veterinary use.
Discovered in the 1960s by Satoshi Omura, a microbiologist at Tokyo’s Kitasako Institute & William Campbell from New Jersey, a culture of the bacteria dubbed Streptomyces avermictilis was proven effective against worms. Its active component dubbed avermectin was later chemically modified that made it safer and more effective and finally the compound was named Ivermectin, commercialised for animal use in 1981.
Campbell later urged his colleagues to use Ivermectin for potential treatment against onchocerciasis — a disease caused by worms and transmitted in flies causing blindness in people living in Sub-Saharan Africa. Initial trials in Senegal showed a positive response and in 1987 it was approved for human use, with over 3.7 billion doses donated by Merck labs distributed across the world.
The drug was also seen to be beneficial against lymphatic filariasis — another disease caused by worms. The creators of the drug, Omura and Campbell were even awarded the Nobel Prize for physiology and medicine in 2015.