Facebook (FB) page Eduard Q. TV posted a 12-minute video on April 2 falsely claiming that President Rodrigo Duterte is “angry” at Health Secretary Francisco Duque III over the controversy surrounding the drug ivermectin amid the current health crisis. Its YouTube channel, which uploaded the same untrue post, added that the president is also furious at Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Director-General Eric Domingo.
There are no media reports nor official statements from Malacañang that support this.
In an April 5 press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque belied reports that Duterte has ordered the Department of Health (DOH) and FDA to authorize ivermectin for use against COVID-19.
Eduard Q. TV’s false post was titled, “PRES.DUTERTE GALIT NA KAY DUQUE AT ERIC DOMINGO | IVERMECTIN IPAPAGAMIT NA EPEKTIBO SA COVID | FDA AT DOH MANANAGOT (Pres. Duterte angry at Duque and Eric Domingo| Ivermectin to be used, effective against COVID | FDA and DOH to be held accountable).” Its version on FB did not mention Domingo in the title.
More, the page and its YouTube channel misleadingly brandished the drug as an “effective” treatment against the coronavirus disease 2019, with the following text sprawled throughout the video: “Ivermectin mabisang gamot sa COVID-19 (an effective medicine for COVID-19).”
Ivermectin is a registered veterinary product in the Philippine used to treat parasites and prevent heartworms in animals. It is also allowed for use for people only in topical form under a prescription, to treat head lice and skin conditions like rosacea.
As of April 5, DOH has not recommended the product as treatment for COVID-19, citing six randomized controlled trials which did not show that the drug reduces the risk of deaths or the length of hospitalization of patients with symptoms. Neither is it associated with improved clinical conditions in coronavirus patients.
World Health Organization (WHO) representative to the Philippines Rabindra Abeyasinghe also said ivermectin has “not proven efficacy for COVID-19, against COVID-19.” FDA’s Domingo told Inquirer.net on April 6 that there is “no conclusive data at this time” to show that the drug is effective at treating the disease, and stressed that it is an anti-parasitic drug.
The FDA, however, granted a compassionate special use permit on April 8 for one hospital to use ivermectin, which it called an investigational drug, against COVID-19.
The untrue video is a composite of clips featuring:
- a report about Domingo discussing product registration requirements for ivermectin,
- a video of lawyer Larry Gadon advocating the use of the drug amid the current health crisis, and
- a six-minute excerpt from a 36-minute interview of a pro-Duterte vlogger with Anakalusugan Rep. Mike Defensor who is also pushing for the drug as a coronavirus treatment.
The National Institutes of Health in the United States and the drug’s manufacturer, Merck, have also said there is insufficient data to recommend the drug as a COVID-19 treatment. Infectious disease specialist Edsel Salvaña also warned that the intake of high doses of the drug may cause brain damage.
The video continues to receive engagements on social media amid public debates on the use of the drug against COVID-19. The post on FB was viewed over 2.1 million times, with more than 95,000 reactions, 12,000 comments and 65,000 shares. The YouTube video has 466,000 views.