VERA FILES FACT CHECK: UP expert’s claim on Ivermectin safety NEEDS CONTEXT

A retired pharmacologist professor of the University of the Philippines College of Medicine (UPCM) claimed that compared to other over-the-counter medicines such as paracetamol, ivermectin is a much safer drug to counter the coronavirus-19 (COVID-19). This needs context.

In an April 30 interview with DZRH posted on Facebook, Romeo Quijano of UPCM said that a lot of high-quality scientific studies, including 50 clinical trials, attest to the drug’s safety and efficacy.

These studies were conducted, however, to demonstrate ivermectin’s safety and efficacy as an antiparasitic drug and not as a COVID-19 medicine.

While there are ongoing randomized clinical trials on ivermectin and COVID-19, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has reviewed scientific results and has concluded that ivermectin should not be used to treat or prevent the virus outside clinical trials.

The World Health Organization (WHO), Department of Health (DOH), Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and drug manufacturer Merck have not recommended the use of ivermectin to prevent or treat COVID-19 due to lack of scientific basis. It should only be used for clinical trials on COVID-19 treatment and prevention, the EMA said.

A 2019 analysis did find out that ivermectin caused 55 deaths out of 15.6 million people who received the drug in the Democratic Republic of Congo from 2003 to 2017. But this was conducted years before the COVID-19 virus spread from Wuhan, China in December 2019.

The United Kingdom’s Office of National Statistics has recorded 4,095 people who have died from paracetamol overdose from 2003 to 2017 in England and Wales. This data, however, does not compare the number of people who overdosed against the total number of people who received the drug. Therefore, it cannot be concluded that ivermectin is safer than paracetamol.

According to the WHO, United States FDA, and the Philippine FDA, ivermectin is an antiparasitic drug used orally for the treatment of river blindness and parasitic worms, and is applied to the skin to treat head lice and skin conditions such as rosacea.

Amid conflicting opinions on the drug, President Rodrigo Duterte on April 20 ordered the Department of Science and Technology and the DOH to conduct clinical trials on the use of ivermectin as treatment against COVID-19.

The April 30 DZRH interview appeared a day after SAGIP Party-list Rep. Rodante Marcoleta and ANAKALUSUGAN Rep. Mike Defensor distributed ivermectin tablets despite the recommendation against it by DOH and Philippine FDA.

The video that needs context got 12,000 reactions, 971 comments, 7,800 shares, and 401,000 views on Facebook.


(Editor's Note: VERA Files has partnered with Facebook to fight the spread of disinformation. Find out more about this partnership and our methodology.)

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