The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has officially confirmed its plan to trial the drug ivermectin in the Philippines – specifically its potential as a treatment for COVID-19. 

The announcement comes a week after the department announced that there’s no need for a trial to be undertaken in the country – with numerous institutions abroad already conducting research.

DOST Secretary Fortunato dela Peña delivered the news during President Rodrigo Duterte’s weekly press briefing on Monday.

Dela Peña shared that the use of the anti-parasitic drug was discussed during the president’s Thursday (April 15) address last week. A few days after that – on April 17 – he met with Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to tackle the specifics of the trial – particularly the experts who will conduct it.

“Noong Huwebes, nagkaroon po tayo ng meeting ay nabanggit niyo na ito. Noong Biyernes, nag usap na kami ni Health Secretary Francisco Duque III at pag-iisipan namin. Noong Sabado po, nagkaroon na kami ng kasunduan na hahanap na ng eksperto na magsasagawa ng clinical trial,” he revealed.

He revealed that they’ve chosen UP-Manila’s Dr. Aileen Wang to spearhead the study – to be performed at designated quarantine facilities near the Philippine General Hospital (PGH).

“Hopefully po, ‘pag natapos ‘yung trial na ‘yan, mas magkaroon tayo ng mas reliable estimates ng epekto ng ivermectin bilang isang anti-viral agent na makakapag-reduce ng virus shedding sa mga mild at moderate patients,” Dela Peña said.

The trial is expected to finish six months after its launch. However, Dela Peña notes that the more volunteers participate, the faster it will conclude.

The use of ivermectin sparked debate in the Philippine health community, with some physicians recommending its use and backing its efficacy while others rallied for further studies to be conducted regarding its effects. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) has not banned the use of the anti-parasitic drug, however, it also does not recommend it until further investigation is conducted. 

The move to trial the drug in the country was pushed by some members of the House of Representatives

Want more news like this one? Head over to Nation Builder PH Breaking News Section for the latest updates.

Image credit: Rodrigo Urzagasti via Getty Images