MANILA, Philippines — Persons distributing and promoting anti-parasitic drug ivermectin as a treatment for novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) may face penalties for violating the law, the Department of Health (DOH) warned Wednesday.
“The most important law that is being violated for this supposed dispensing of ivermectin is Republic Act 9711. Ito yung FDA (Food and Drug Administration) Act, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a virtual press briefing when asked about the possible liability of people pushing for the use of the drug to treat COVID-19.
“Specific to that law sinabi mismo na yung mga hindi rehistradong gamot ay hindi natin pwedeng ipagamit sa ating mga kababayan,” she added.
The FDA Act prohibits the “manufacture, importation, exportation, sale, offering for sale, distribution, transfer, non-consumer use, promotion, advertising, or sponsorship of any health product that is adulterated, unregistered or misbranded.”
Those who will violate the law may face up imprisonment of up to ten years or a fine up to P5 million.
Vergeire stressed that only healthcare professionals can prescribe medicines to patients.
“We would like to advise the public that if you take unregistered medicines, the government cannot assure that they are really safe for you and can really protect you for that specific disease,” she said in a mix of Filipino and English.
The DOH repeated its warning against using unregistered drugs amid discussions on the use of ivermectin to treat COVID-19 despite the recommendations of health experts.
The FDA earlier said that the ivermectin drug is not registered for human use in the country and that the anti-parasitic drug commercially available are for veterinary use.
The drug is used to prevent heartworm disease and treat internal and external parasites.