The Philippine National Police will help the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) go after unregistered sellers of the anti-parasite drug known as ivermectin.
Maj. Gen. Gen. Albert Ignatius Ferro, chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, made this remark following reports that the drug, which is approved for use in animals only, was being sold as a cure for COVID-19.
All current Ivermectin products registered in the country are for veterinary use and are only allowed for the treatment of internal and external parasites as well as prevention of heartworm disease in animals, the FDA said.
Ferro said the FDA has asked local government units (LGUs) and law enforcement agencies to ensure that ivermectin will not be sold or used in their respective areas of responsibility.
“We strongly advise the public to seek professional help and opinion before using the said drug and buy only from authorized sources,” Ferro said in a statement on Saturday.
On Thursday, FDA Director General Eric Domingo said the distribution of ivermectin remains illegal even though a hospital has been granted a compassionate use permit for the drug.
At an online briefing, Domingo said ivermectin is an “investigational product” and clinical trials on its use to treat or prevent COVID-19 are ongoing.
He said the FDA has received an application for a certificate for product registration of the drug, which has been promoted by some lawmakers as a COVID-19 treatment.
The Department of Health earlier warned that the distribution and promotion of ivermectin as a treatment for coronavirus in humans is a violation of the law.
On Sunday, the FDA warned that a doctor providing anti-parasitic drug ivermectin, who has an approved permit for compassionate use, will be liable for side effects or issues after using the drug for human treatment.
In an interview on radio dzBB, Domingo said one of the requirements in applying for a compassionate use permit is the doctor's assurance that he will take responsibility for the use of ivermectin.
Medical experts warned of damage to the brain, liver, and kidneys as possible negative effects of ivermectin.
The Department of Health, FDA and the World Health Organization have also discouraged the use of the veterinary drug for treatment against COVID-19, saying there was no evidence that the drug could reduce the risk of mortality for COVID-19 patients.
The FDA approved a hospital's application last week for compassionate use on humans of the veterinary drug ivermectin.
Domingo said only hospitals having compassionate use permits for humans will be allowed to import the drug through a licensed importer.
This means, without the permit, distribution of ivermectin is still prohibited.
Anakalusugan Rep. Mike Defensor, a vocal proponent for the use of ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment, said the person who will be given the drug must sign a consent form.
Defensor has said he was given ivermectin while he was infected with COVID-19.