A 27-YEAR-OLD woman from Naga City was arrested by agents of the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and the Police Regional Office 5 (PRO5) for involvement in the illegal sale of Ivermectin capsules being advertised as treatment against COVID-19 on Friday afternoon, the Journal Group learned.
Cecilia Catacutan, a resident of 25 Zone 5, Princeton Street in Monterey Village, Concepcion Pequeña, Naga City was placed under arrest during the conduct of an entrapment operation inside the administration office of Centro Square Building in Bgy. San Francisco, said CIDG Region 5 chief, Colonel Randy Glenn F. Silvio.
“According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it was the first time that police have arrested a person involved in the illegal sale of Ivermectin which has not been approved by the FDA as a treatment for any viral infection,” said the official.
Members of the Bicol CIDG, the FDA Region 5 and the PRO5 headed by Brigadier General Jonnel C. Estomo conducted the sting following two online ‘test-buys.’
In a report to PNP-CIDG director, Major Gen. Albert Ignatius D. Ferro, Col. Silvio said they are also tracking down a certain Joel Yao, described as the employer of Catacutan after the latter was tagged as the person who made the online transactions with the poseur.
Silvio said that during the sting, Catacutan sold P16,000 worth of unregistered Ivermectin and Lian Hua products to an undercover agent.
He said that the FDA certified that the accused have not been granted any Compassionate Special Permit to sell the so-called health products. Yao also had no License to Operate from the FDA, he added.
Recovered during the sting were 20 boxes of Lian Hua, 200 capsules of Ivermectin IVM 15MG02622 and the P16,000 worth of boodle money topped by a marked P1,000 bill.
The accused will be facing charges for violation of the Food and Drug Administration Act of 2009.
The FDA earlier advised the public against the purchase and use of Ivermectin veterinary products against COVID-19.
Currently, the registered Ivermectin products in the country for human use are in topical formulations under prescription use only. This is used for the treatment of external parasites such as head lice and skin conditions such as rosacea.
The FDA said that the registered oral and intravenous preparations of Ivermectin are veterinary products which are approved for use in animals for the prevention of heartworm disease and treatment of internal and external parasites in certain animal species.
The drug is an important part of a parasite control program for some animal species and should only be administered according to its approved indication, or as prescribed by a duly licensed veterinarian.
The FDA warned the public from taking animal drugs since these products can cause serious harm to humans. After evaluating their safety and efficacy, experts said that animal drugs are often highly concentrated and can be highly toxic to humans.
Thus, the agency said that any use of Ivermectin veterinary products for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19 should be avoided as the benefits and safety for this purpose has not been established. Data from clinical trials are necessary to determine whether Ivermectin is safe and effective in treating or preventing COVID-19, it added.
Under the law, violators of RA 9711 or the FDA Act of 2009 may face imprisonment of up to 10 years or a fine of up to P5 million.
The Department of Health (DOH) also said that unregistered drugs cannot be used by the public and that only healthcare professionals can prescribe medicines to patients.