PETALING JAYA: A coalition of health groups is urging the government to approve the use of parasitic drug Ivermectin for Covid-19 patients.
The Malaysian Alliance for Effective Covid Control (MAECC) claimed that the use of the drug could result in the Covid-19 situation being controlled in six weeks.
It also pleaded with the government to exercise its emergency powers to fast-track the use of Ivermectin and “appropriate” supplements for immune enhancement for all individuals under quarantine.
“We urge the government to position this drug and repurpose it as a first line therapy. Globally, Ivermectin has been used in the last four decades and more than 3.7 billion doses have been prescribed.
“It is one of the safest drugs. The scientific data for Ivermectin is compelling,” said Dr Farid Amir Ishak on MAECC’s behalf during a press conference livestreamed on Zoom yesterday.
He said according to studies, the prevention of large number of Covid-19 deaths was possible, adding that early use of the drug could reduce the severity of the disease.
He said it could be unethical if Covid-19 patients were not allowed to be treated with the drug.
Dr S. Vijaendreh, also of MAECC, said clinical trials would take time and appealed for conditional use of the drug by all doctors who would like to prescribe it according to guidelines set by the Health Ministry.
“All data and results can be maintained and shared, and analysed,” he said, adding that MAECC wanted to present all emerging data that supported the use of the drug to the ministry.
He said from the data accumulated, there was reason enough to use the drug as one of the arsenal in the treatment of Covid-19.
“It is important to stress that this is not the magic pill that solves everything about Covid-19 but it has a very important role, and we should use it as indicated,” he said.
Ivermectin has been used for decades to treat head lice and river blindness in humans and heartworms in animals.
In regards to Covid-19 treatment, laboratory experiments by researchers at the Monash University of Australia found that Ivermectin in vitro had an inhibitory action on SARS-CoV-2, reducing the load of viral RNA by 5,000 times in 48 hours.
On June 5, the ministry and the Institute for Clinical Research started clinical trials to study the use and efficacy of Ivermectin for high-risk Covid-19 patients at 12 hospitals.
Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said Ivermectin was a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved anti-parasitic drug, widely used for treating several neglected tropical diseases, including onchocerciasis, strongyloidiasis and helminthiasis.
However, he said the evidence was inconclusive to recommend routine use of Ivermectin for Covid-19 patients.
Dr Noor Hisham said the FDA had not approved Ivermectin for use in treating or preventing Covid-19 in humans while the World Health Organisation only recommended this in a clinical trial setting.