The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been directed to lead operations against the illegal distribution of the unproven and unregistered antiparasitic drug ivermectin as Covid-19 treatment, Malacañang said on Wednesday.

In a statement, Palace spokesman Harry Roque said President Rodrigo Duterte issued the order because “the Philippine National Police (PNP) cannot arbitrarily determine on their own which drug/s should not be on the market.”

“To ensure the safety and welfare of the public and at the same time avoid any unnecessary conflicts, the [FDA] has been directed to take the lead in determining the course of action against the illegal trading/dispensing of ivermectin,” he said.

“All operations to apprehend or seize goods must be done in coordination with the FDA.”

Roque stressed that what the FDA was ordered to stop was the sale/trade of ivermectin for veterinary use that had been repackaged as human grade, including those not determined by competent authorities as safe to be used in humans.

“Having said this, we advise the public to seek the advice of medical practitioners before taking medicines and/or supplements,” he said.

Merck, the maker of ivermectin, had said that there was no scientific basis of the drug being effective against Covid-19.

Despite this, several lawmakers have campaigned for the use of the anti-parasite drug for Covid-19 treatment. John Ezekiel J. Hirro