Gov’t plans ivermectin trial as COVID-19 treatment in Metro Manila by May

THE CLINICAL trial for anti-parasitic drug ivermectin as treatment for coronavirus may start by end-May within Metro Manila, the Department of Science and Technology said.

Jaime C. Montoya, executive director of the agency’s Philippine Council for Health Research and Development, said they are looking at conducting the trial in the capital region for faster recruitment of around 1,200 participants. “The study will actually target mild cases, and some moderate cases, but these are patients seen in the quarantine facilities,” he told an online briefing.

“Because based on the review of the Living CPG (Clinical Practice Guidelines) and the recommendation of the World Health Organization, these are the type of patients na insufficient ang evidence (where evidence is insufficient) for benefit of ivermectin,” he added.

Marissa M. Alejandria, president of the Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, said the trial will also look at whether the drug will prevent progression to severe disease and hospitalization as well as faster resolution of symptoms and viral clearance.

Mr. Montoya said the trial will also be “very useful” in monitoring the possible side effects of the drug that may be unique to Filipinos.

The Department of Health on Wednesday said there is still insufficient evidence to recommend the use of the anti-parasitic drug ivermectin for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients.

“There is that remark that the quality of evidence is very low,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario S. Vergeire told an online briefing, citing the reevaluation of evidence on ivermectin as a treatment for the COVID-19 issued by group of medical societies, including the Health department and Food and Drug Administration (FDA). She said ivermectin is not recommended for severe COVID-19 cases and combining it with doxycycline, which is used to treat bacterial infections. Ms. Vergeire said only hospitals granted a compassionate special permit by the local drug regulator are allowed to distribute ivermectin.

Only five facilities had been allowed to use the drug against the coronavirus under a special permit, FDA Director-General Rolando Enrique D. Domingo said in a mobile phone message on Tuesday. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas