Avigan trials in PH still hasn’t started — DOH

Monday, August 24th, 2020. Filed under: News Philippine News Science & Technology

MANILA, Aug 24 (Mabuhay) — The clinical trials for the anti-flu drug Avigan as possible treatment for COVID-19 has yet to start in the Philippines for various reasons, a health official said Monday or a week since the experiment is supposed to have begun.

“Ang Avigan trial natin, hindi pa sya nag-uumpisa. Supposedly, it was set to start Aug. 17, but there were a lot of processes na hindi pa natatapos,” said Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire during a virtual briefing.

“Katulad ng finalized budget, hindi pa iyan naa-approve,” she said, explaining that the government and the University of the Philippines – Manila are still discussing the budget for the clinical trials.

Avigan is initially an anti-flu drug but has shown promising results when used on COVID-19 patients. Japan has already supplied the Philippines with doses for 100 patients participating in the clinical trials.

The Philippine General Hospital, which is under UP, is among the four hospitals participating. The others are Sta. Ana Hospital, Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital, and Quirino Memorial Medical Center.

Vergeire said that while PGH has already gotten the approval of its ethics committee for the Avigan trials, the other three hospitals are still processing theirs.

She said the trials will also need approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

Vergeire said the various ethics committees and the primary proponent of the trial said that they should be ready to start by September 1.

The health official said the World Health Organization’s Solidarity Trial is still ongoing in the Philippines, with the drugs remdesivir and interferon being used.

“We already have 932 participants already in 22 of the 24 active sites,” she said.

There were originally 4 drug combinations included in the trial but the other two were removed after they were deemed ineffective and with side effects.

Meanwhile, the DOH said it was “supportive” of Philippine-made safety gear against the novel coronavirus, following criticism on the government’s supposed reliance on imported equipment.

“There are no preferences as to country. We are very much supportive of our local suppliers,” Vergeire said.

The DOH is tasked with preparing the technical specifications of the safety gear based on the World Health Organization and other internationally recognized standards. However, it is the budget department’s procurement service which sources the personal protective equipment (PPE), said Vergeire.

The body continues to buy majority of safety gear from abroad, the Confederation of Philippine Manufacturers of PPE said, as quoted by a report this weekend.

A bill that gives President Rodrigo Duterte powers to realign funds for the pandemic allots P3 billion for the procurement of PPE, with preference for those made in the Philippines, Senate Committee on Finance chairman Sonny Angara said Sunday.

“Hopefully, with this law, we can already accommodate the production of our local suppliers,” said Vergeire.  (MNS)

ALSO READ: PH Covid-19 cases rise by 2,378; recoveries climb to 131,367

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