MANILA – The Department of Health on Wednesday warned against the use of Carrimycin as possible remedy to COVID-19 due to lack of scientific evidence for its safety and efficacy.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the drug was registered in the US National Library of Medicine for a clinical trial against COVID-19 in February, but results have not yet been released.
“Kagaya ng investigational therapies sa COVID, hindi nirerekomenda ng DOH ang mga gamot na ito para sa COVID hangga't wala pa tayong matibay at malawakang scientific evidence na ito ay ligtas at epektibo,” she said in a virtual press briefing.
(Like other investigational therapies for COVID, DOH does not recommend the use of this drug since there is no concrete scientific evidence to its safety and effectiveness.)
Vergeire made the remark in response to a question that Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Gen. Felimon Santos Jr. recovered from COVID-19 by using Carrimycin.
This came to light after the head of the Philippine military sought the help of the Chinese Embassy in procuring the tablets.
"The said medicine helped me in my recovery from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infection and I intend to give the said drug to my close friends who have also been infected," Santos wrote in the letter.
"I took Carrimycin tablets given to me by a Chinese friend with a dosage of two tablets a day for six days. On April 5, I was tested negative for COVID-19."
Vergeire said the Philippines was among more than 100 countries that is participating in the World Health Organization’s Solidarity Trial for COVID-19 treatments.
The drugs for trial are: (1) remdesivir, (2) lopinavir and ritonavir combined, (3) two drugs plus interferon beta, and (4) chloroquine.
These off-label drugs were originally made to treat other diseases such as malaria or Ebola.
It takes several months or years to develop a drug to treat a disease such as COVID-19, so experts have resorted to check on existing drugs.
According to the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Carrimycin was approved by China’s National Medical Products Administration in June 2019 to treat the upper respiratory infection.
The antibiotic has a trade name of “bite,” which was developed by the team led by Professor Yiguang Wang of the Institute of Medicinal Biotechnology of Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences.