Amid conflicting claims on the use of anti-parasitic drug ivermectin in treating COVID-19, Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III said he might push for a legislative inquiry to settle the issue.
In a media briefing on Thursday, Sotto said even doctors are divided on the veterinary drug, which has not been registered with the country’s Food and Drug Administration for human use.
The FDA gave six hospitals compassionate special permits to administer ivermectin to COVID-19 patients. Health experts, including from the World Health Organization, say the drug should only be used in clinical trials pending evidence it can treat or prevent COVID-19.
“Maganda niyan magkaroon tayo ng hearing tungkol diyan (The good thing to do is to launch a hearing about that),” Sotto said.
“I might be tempted to come up with a privilege speech, so that my privilege speech will be referred to the committee on health or whatever committee is necessary or appropriate to look into the matter,” he added.
Senate will resume session on May 17, and Sotto said the hearing can be scheduled that week or the week after that.
For now, whoever wants to take ivermectin should be allowed to do so, Sotto said. The senator himself has been taking the drug in hopes of preventing coronavirus infection and said he has not observed any adverse effects.
Some lawmakers in the House of Representatives have also been advocating the use of ivermectin, with Anakalusugan Party-list Rep. Mike Defensor and Sagip Party-list Rep. Rodante Marcoleta distributing free capsules to the public. But questions have been raised on the legality of their action, and the validity of the prescriptions made.
The Philippine College of Physicians has warned of several side effects from ivermectin, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, facial or limb swelling, seizures, confusion, sudden drop in blood pressure that would require hospitalization, and liver injury or hepatitis.
Dr. Jaime Montoya, chief of the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Health Research and Development, said the clinical trial of ivermectin in the country may be completed by early 2022.