Public health agencies differ in their stands on the community pantry to be established by two Congressmen in Quezon City in hopes of distributing the anti-parasitic drug Ivermectin for free.
For Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega, pantry organizers House Deputy Speaker Rodante Mendoza and Anakalusugan Rep. Mikee Defensor will need to apply for a Certificate of Product Registration (CPR) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first before setting up their community pantry.
The state regulator has allowed the use of the medication for Covid-19 through hospitals with Compassionate Special Permit (CSP) only. Ivermectin is still not approved for commercial distribution.
“The FDA has given us the directive that Ivermectin is still an investigational and experimental drug. In other words, it is not fit for any kind of human consumption not unless the drug supplier submits the CPR to FDA so it can be cleared and specified whether this is for human use or animal use,” Vega said.
“They (congressmen) must relate this with the FDA directive and they can ask the agency to look into the supplies and apply for a CPR because this is the only way the FDA can actually give the permit to market this kind of drugs,” he added.
If no CPR will be issued, Vega added the legislators would need to conduct the distribution in hospitals with CSP. As of 27 April, only five hospitals in the country have been issued compassionate permits.
Meanwhile, the FDA said it is giving green light to the community pantry if there are doctors present.
“Aside from CPR and CSP, a doctor can also prescribe and the prescription can be dispensed by a licensed compounding pharmacy,” FDA Chief Eric Domingo said in a text message to Daily Tribune.
“It should be okay if they have doctors who will check the patients and prescribe medications that will be dispensed properly,” he added.
The Concerned Doctors and Citizens of the Philippines along with medical specialists from Lifecore Bio-Integrative Inc. confirmed that they will volunteer at the pantry.
with JOMELLE GARNER and MICHELLE GUILLANG
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