Quarantine facilities of the Philippine Red Cross will be tapped for volunteers for clinical trials of anti-parasitic drug Ivermectin, a Department of Science and Technology (DOST) official said on Monday.

This was despite opposition to its use by medical groups such as the Philippine Pharmacists’ Association of the Philippines and the Philippine College of Surgeons.

Clinical trials for Ivermectin will be conducted on volunteers from quarantine facilities since they will be easier to monitor on a daily basis than those under home quarantine, said Dr. Jaime Montoya, executive director of the DOST-Philippine Council for Health Research and Development.

“Ang isasama po sa ating pag-aaral ay ‘yung pong tinatawag na non-severe, ito po ‘yung mild to moderate cases, symptomatic cases, at pati po asymptomatic (cases), ‘yung wala pong nararamdaman, na karaniwan pong nakikita sa mga quarantine facilities,” Montoya said in a public briefing.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Director General Eric Domingo said last April 20, that President Rodrigo Duterte had given DOST and the Department of Health an order to conduct clinical trials on Ivermectin.

Montoya explained that the trials would be conducted on non-severe Covid-19 cases due to the lack of scientific evidence on its effectiveness on these types of cases. He added that most Covid-19 cases in the Philippines were non-severe.

“Ito po talaga ang bagay na (dapat) gawan natin ng pag-aaral sa ngayon para kung saka-sakaling may benepisyo po ang Ivermectin, mas malaking makikinabang po na populasyon sa resulta ng pag-aaral na ito,” Montoya said.

Montoya said that research protocols on the clinical trial were being finalized and would be sent to the FDA for approval.

Dr. Aileen Wang of the Philippine General Hospital will spearhead the trials.

Results of the trial are expected to be released by January next year.

“Kung marami po ang volunteers na ating makukuha maari pong mapaikli yung ating tagal nang pag-aaral. Sa halip na six-month recruitment, baka po maging four months o five months. So depende po ‘yan sa bilis ng pag-volunteer po ng lalahok sa pag-aaral na ito,” Montoya said.

Clinical trials are expected to begin by the end of May or the first week of June. Charlene Grace Lao