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BOC-NAIA confiscates 20,000 ivermectin tablets

  • The Bureau of Customs-Ninoy Aquino International Airport intercepted 20,000 capsules of undeclared ivermectin as well as other undeclared regulated drugs in a warehouse in Pasay City
  • The shipment imported by Finstad Inc. from New Delhi, India was declared to contain “food supplements, multivitamins, and multi-mineral capsules”

The Bureau of Customs-Ninoy Aquino International Airport (BOC-NAIA) has intercepted 20,000 capsules of undeclared ivermectin as well as other undeclared regulated drugs in a warehouse in Pasay City.

A shipment imported by Finstad Inc. from New Delhi, India was declared to contain “food supplements, multivitamins, and multi-mineral capsules,” BOC said in a statement.

Upon 100% physical inspection, however, the BOC-NAIA customs examiner discovered the undeclared drugs concealed in the inner portion of the shipment and covered by the declared regulated items.

Ivermectin is an anti-parasitic drug for veterinary use registered in the country to treat internal and external parasites and prevent heartworm disease in animals. For human use, registered ivermectin products come in topical formulations under prescription only, used to treat external parasites such as head lice and skin conditions such as rosacea.

The anti-parasitic drug, however, is also being used to treat COVID-19 patients in a few other countries, and there are anecdotal claims it alleviates symptoms, prompting the debate on whether to allow the drug’s use to treat the virus in the Philippines.

The World Health Organization, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Department of Health, and various health experts and medical associations have cautioned the public against using ivermectin, saying there is still not enough proof or scientific basis to show that the drug can treat or prevent COVID-19.

Still, the FDA has recently allowed the “compassionate use” of the anti-parasitic drug in certain specialized institutions to treat COVID-19 patients. As of May 5, six hospitals have acquired an approved compassionate special permit to use ivermectin.

The government has also allotted P22 billion for clinical trials to determine ivermectin’s efficacy in treating COVID-19.

In a reply letter to BOC’s query, FDA Center for Drug Regulation and Research director Jesusa Joyce Cirunay said in case ivermectin has been granted authorization, a valid License to Operate as Drug Importer and Emergency Use Authorization or Certificate of Product Registration should be presented to be able to import the drug.

BOC-NAIA said it remains committed to expediting the processing and release of COVID-19 vaccines, drugs and other medical supplies, but will also be vigilant against all smuggling attempts to import unregistered, undeclared goods and/or misdeclared goods without the necessary clearances and permits from FDA.

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