The DOH on Monday denied allegations that it had purchased Php1 billion worth of remdesivir, an investigational drug for the treatment of COVID-19.

The DOH clarified that while it had initially planned to procure remdesivir and other investigational drugs, the said procurement did not push through.

For DOH to be able to procure these investigational drugs, a Certificate of Product Registration (CPR), or an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) is needed. As such, the procurement could not proceed as none of the investigational drugs have been granted these requisite regulatory approvals during the time of procurement.

Despite this, a number of DOH hospitals, including specialty hospitals in NCR, Central Luzon, and CALABARZON, were able to secure Compassionate Special Permits (CSP), which allowed them to procure these investigational drugs even without CPR or EUAs. The CSP is a special permit that allows institutions to avail of unregistered drugs and devices and use them under certain conditions.

Thus, to ensure continued access to promising investigational drugs, especially when experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases, funds of around Php 3 to 5M were downloaded to these authorized facilities for the procurement of COVID-19 therapeutics.

The DOH explained that the continued use of remdesivir for COVID-19 patients of certain disposition is FULLY SUPPORTED by a consensus panel of 19 medical societies as reflected in the Philippine COVID-19 Living Recommendations. Moreover, the Health Technology Assessment Council (HTAC) will release a list of recommendations for investigational drugs to provide guidance on the government’s possible procurement of these therapeutics.

The DOH assures the public that the Department is at the forefront of ensuring that COVID-19 investigational drugs and medicines are safe and effective for use. Likewise, the DOH is continuously working with medical societies to update and expand the list of investigational drugs for COVID-19 through the Philippine COVID-19 Living Recommendations.