FALSE: Senate promotes Ivermectin as COVID-19 treatment

At a glance:
  • Claim: Senate President Tito Sotto and the Senate is promoting and considering Ivermectin for the early prevention and treatment of COVID-19.
  • Rating: FALSE
  • The facts: Sotto did not promote Ivermectin but mentioned it when he said the Department of Health (DOH) should look into possible treatments for COVID-19. The FDA advises against the use of Ivermectin veterinary products against COVID-19, and has not approved the drug for viral infection.
  • Why we fact-checked this: The videos with these claims currently have 12,866 combined views as of writing and have been reposted several times on Facebook. 
Complete details:

Two separate Youtube channels uploaded video excerpts of Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III in a February 22 Senate plenary session. One of the videos was titled: “Philippine Senator Tito Sotto Promoting Ivermectin as a Cheap Treatment and Prevention for COVID-19.”

One of the videos had a description that claimed that the “Senate is considering early treatment and prevention of the virus outbreak mentioning IVERMECTIN.” Another claimed that “Senator Tito Sotto is recommending Ivermectin as a cheap treatment and prevention for COVID-19.”

These videos have a combined 12,866 views.

These claims are false. 

Sotto did not promote Ivermectin for COVID-19 treatment, but mentioned it when he said that he hopes that the Department of Health (DOH) “will look into” COVID-19 medication, and not just vaccines. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also issued a public health warning advising against the use of Ivermectin in the treatment of COVID-19. 

Sotto, in the plenary session, asked if the DOH had an early treatment protocol for early COVID-19 symptoms. He emphasized that the government needed to focus on the treatment and cure of the disease amid vaccine delays. 

He said: “There are so many other endorsed medication that I hope the Department of Health will look into. Not just Avigan, or Remdesivir, may mga iba pa (there are others), I think there is Ivermectin.... And it’s cheap... cheaper than a vaccine. And it’s a prevention. 'Di ba? (Right?) So there is a better, greater, possibility of saving lives.” 

On March 15, the FDA issued a public health warning on the use and administration of Ivermectin veterinary products for COVID-19. Ivermectin is not approved by the FDA for treatment of any viral infection. Its oral and intravenous preparations are only approved for use in animals. Ivermectin is only approved by the FDA for human use in topical applications, such as in the treatment of external parasites like head lice, and in skin conditions, like rosacea. 

Doctor Edsel Salvana, a member of the Department of Health Technical Advisory Group, wrote in a March 15 post that the clinical data for Ivermectin was still “mixed," and that Ivermectin offers “no clear benefit at this time.” Salvana also mentioned that “the manufacturer (Merck) cautions against use and has NOT applied for compassionate use or registration of the drug for COVID-19.” – Therese Litonjua/Rappler.com

This article was written by a Rappler volunteer or intern and reviewed by a member of Rappler's research team and a senior editor. Learn more about Rappler's internship program here.

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