Party-list lawmakers Michael Defensor of Anakalusugan and Rodante Marcoleta of Sagip on Thursday led the distribution of the antiparasitic drug ivermectin for free to residents of Barangay Matandang Balara in Quezon City.
Defensor said about 200 individuals received the medicine even as doctors were also present in the vicinity to provide prescriptions for the drug.
He said individuals who lined up were required to fill out a form before doctors can prescribe them the capsules.
The prescription pad used by the doctors was plain paper that did not bear their license numbers or PTR numbers. The patient’s name, date prescribed and the number of drugs and the duration of intake were indicated in the prescription.
“What is important are the forms submitted to us which they submitted a day before. Pwede na nila hawakan reseta nila. We have copies,” Defensor said.
He added they would continue the ivermectin distribution today (Friday) and on Saturday, and that they will start house-to-house distribution as request forms start to come in.
Meanwhile, Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the Department of Justice had yet to determine whether the exemptions set by the Food and Drug Administration on the use of ivermectin as COVID-19 treatment had legal basis.
Guevarra made the statement after Marcoleta and Defensor earlier distributed the antiparasitic drug.
Guevarra explained the FDA Law punishes and prohibits the importation, sale, distribution, and administration of unregistered drugs or vaccines.
“In the case of ivermectin, it is not registered particularly as drug for COVID-19 and going by the FDA law, on its face it would appear that the distribution of ivermectin as possible treatment for COVID-19 violates the FDA law,” Guevarra said.
But the DOJ chief said FDA Director General Eric Domingo had stated two exemptions on the use of the said drug.
These exemptions are the issuance of a compassionate special permit and if the said drug was prescribed by a doctor and was compounded by a duly-licensed pharmacist.
“If Representatives Defensor and Marcoleta’s act of distributing ivermectin will fall into these two situations, it would appear that they can put this up as a defense in case a complaint is filed against them,” Guevarra said.
“But personally, whether the two cited by FDA director general have sound legal basis, that is something for further study. I’m not too sure on the soundness of the legal basis for the exemptions,” he added.
Currently, the FDA has granted five hospitals with compassionate permits for use of ivermectin against COVID-19.
The FDA explained the permit is not a marketing authorization, meaning ivermectin could not be sold commercially yet.