Anakalusugan party-list Rep. Michael Defensor on Sunday welcomed the availability of ivermectin tablets in the retail outlets of Watsons Personal Care Store (Philippines) Inc.
Defensor said Mercury Drug Corp., in a separate advisory, said ivermectin as a prescription drug “will soon be available at all stores nationwide.”
“We applaud Watsons for improving public access to ivermectin, which has a fervent following not only in the Philippines but also across the globe,” he said.
The Food and Drug Administration earlier issued a certificate of product registration to Lloyd Laboratories for the manufacture and sale ofivermectin, thus paving the way for its legal human consumption.
But FDA director-general Eric Domingo said the CPR was on the use of “locally manufactured ivermectin as an antinematode (parasitic worm) drug.”
Defensor said Watsons, in an advisory in its social media pages over the weekend, said ivermectin tablets may now be purchased at select stores with a doctor’s prescription.
Ivermectin 12mg and 15mg tablets are each being sold at P24.50 and P26.50, respectively.
Defensor has been pushing for the use of ivermectin as a potential low-cost treatment for COVID-19.
Meanwhile, Buhay party-list Rep. Joselito Atienza criticized former health secretary Dr. Esperanza Cabral for questioning the government’s readiness to fund a clinical trial on ivermectin as a possible treatment for COVID-19.
“Government itself is sponsoring the clinical trial on ivermectin because we are in the middle of a once-in-a-century pandemic. Filipinos are desperate for affordable prevention and treatment, and yet nobody else wants to fund a study,” he said.
“To put it bluntly, nobody in the private sector wants to fund any research on ivermectin because it is an inexpensive and low-margin generic drug,” he added.
Cabral earlier challenged the government’s decision to earmark P22 million for the ivermectin trial, adding that those who wish to promote and market the drug should be the ones to fund the research.
Upon President Rodrigo Duterte’s orders, the Department of Science and Technology is set to conduct the clinical trial to ascertain effectiveness of ivermectin against COVID-19.
The DOST’s Philippine Council for Health Research and Development is recruiting COVID-19 patients in Metro Manila to participate in the trial that is expected to begin in the first week of June and last for eight months.