A clinical assistant professor and alumnus of the University of the Philippines College of Medicine sets the record straight: ivermectin, if not taken for its approved prescriptions — to treat parasites — can be very dangerous.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage its wrath, and as the Philippines once again sees the second implementation of the strict Enhanced Community Quarantine, questions regarding the prophylaxis (disease prevention) and healing properties of certain medicines and drugs have arisen. The case of the drug ivermectin has been much talked about.
Sharing his thoughts on the matter is Dr. Philip Tan-Gatue. Aside from his UP College of Medicine credentials, Tan-Gatue also holds certificates from the Nanjing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine and the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences.
No set standards and guidelines.
On a YouTube video published in his channel last March 26, 2021, Tan-Gatue states that he is “not closed” to the possibility of ivermectin being able to treat and prevent COVID-19. However, Tan-Gatue said that its use for COVID-19 lacks specific standards and guidelines.
“I am not closed to the possibility of using ivermectin in the prophylaxis and/or treatment of COVID-19. However, what I do object to is the insistence of using it despite the lack, as of this recording, of any standards for use,” Tan-Gatue said.
Tan-Gatue mentioned that he doesn’t discount the “anecdotal” and personal experiences of those who have found benefit in ivermectin in the treatment of COVID-19.
However, he was also quick to say this: “But I must ask this question. ‘Okay, I want to use ivermectin.’ How? Is there a standardized dose? Are there standardized indications? When to use it? When not to use it? What to watch out for?”
The problem, according to Tan-Gatue: “There aren’t any.” Because of the lack of set guidelines, overdosing with ivermectin could be a possibility, posing a danger to users. In addition, the lack of set guidelines could propel misinformation about its use.
And, even if a doctor may prescribe a certain patient with a specific dose of ivermectin, that patient’s individual circumstances and conditions are unique to him or herself only. All patients have different circumstances, hence necessitating the need for set guidelines and an avoidance of self-medication.
“Even with Chinese herbs, we always have standardizations. We don’t just plop ingredients together. No. We have set indications, set clinical pictures, and yeah, not set doses, but set ranges and proportions,” Tan-Gatue said.
Tan-Gatue said that there are indeed standards for ivermectin, but for “its approved treatment in clearing parasites”, and not in preventing or treating COVID-19. Some proponents claim that there do exist protocols for its use in COVID-19, but Tan-Gatue believes these are not appropriate because they mix ivermectin with other drugs, nor are they proven through randomized clinical trials to be better than standard treatment.
The manufacturer itself of ivermectin said that it shouldn’t be used.
“The manufacturer of ivermectin already said ‘do not use it’,” Tan-Gatue stated. “I think at this point — maybe in the future it will change — but if at this point the manufacturer says don’t use it for this purpose, then it’s very, very presumptuous for us [to think] that we know better than the guys who make it.”
In an article, the Food and Drug Administration of the United States echoed Tan-Gatue’s sentiments. “The FDA has not reviewed data to support use of ivermectin in COVID-19 patients to treat or to prevent COVID-19; however, some initial research is underway. Taking a drug for an unapproved use can be very dangerous.”
Aside from speaking about ivermectin, Tan-Gatue is also a staunch supporter of vaccines. He mythbusted several ongoing misconceptions regarding vaccines, along with many other medical doctors.
Meanwhile, in a separate event, Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Department of Health Dr. Beverly Lorraine Ho urged the public not to be afraid of the COVID-19 vaccines. “Rest assured that if something bad is in those vaccines, they wouldn’t have passed through the approval process,” Ho said.
Still on a separate event, Chinese General Hospital Medical Director Dr. Samuel Ang also urged the public to take the vaccines — at 70, despite being above the recommended age of 18-59, he took the Sinovac vaccine.
The author of this article:
Aaron covers topics that range from business and ethics to culture and philosophy. He is currently a CHiNOY TV producer, a Philippine Daily Inquirer correspondent, a Philippine Association for Chinese Studies lifetime member, and an Ateneo de Manila University Chinese Studies Program constituent. An occasional TikToker, he also loves Pokémon! Follow him on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aaron.joseph.s.medina/