TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Ivermectin is being promoted by a number of politicians and businesspeople as an effective treatment against the coronavirus. The Food and Drug Monitoring Agency must be independent from pressure.
The Coronavirus Disease 2019 tragedy in India is now staring us in the face. In this nation, the life or death of thousands of people infected with the coronavirus is hanging in the balance, depending n whether they are able to obtain medical treatment or not. There are many stories of patients suffering in hospital corridors or parking lots, and even dying before they can be treated. The ability of this nation to protect its people is now being tested.
In the crisis of this pandemic's second wave, the government must not lose its head. Every decision should be taken based onscientific health considerations. other approaches, including those related to economics or politics, need to be set aside. Saving people's lives in the top priority.
This is what the public wants to see in the middle of the debate over ivermectin. We know that many people are trying to find ivermectin in the middle of the panic after the explosion in Covid-19 infections of the last two weeks. These people who are panicking in the face of a matter of life and death and who then go looking for medicine they belive to be efficacious cannot be blamed, especially since there are stories that ivermectin has been effective in treating Covis-19 in a number of nations. With rising public demand, the price of the drug is rising out of control.
Ivermectin is an antiparsitic agent introduced in 1981. It was developed by Satoshi Omura from Kitasato University, Japan, and William Campbell from Merck. In 2005, the two men shared half the Nobel Prize for medicine for this discovery. In Indonesia, the Food and Drug Monitoring Agency (BPOM) issued a permit for its use as anti-worm medicine two weeks ago and approved clinical trials into its effectiveness as a treatment for Covid-19. The agency has also repeatedly stated that ivermectin can only be supplied based on a prescription from a doctor.
It is here that non-health interests started to appear. A number of business people have trid to make a quick profit by cutting corners in the licensing process with the help of senior officials so they can start marketing ivermectin as a Covid-19 treatment. Some of the political elites have added to the confusion by handing out ivermectin freely for political aims. Even a state-owned company has found itself in a grey area. Indofarma has ramped up production of ivermectin of 12 mg to 4 million tablets per month even thoug it knows very well that people will not be using it to treas worms. Government officials has been duplicitous. Those who are panicking in the face of the pandemic escalation have been quietly pushing for the use of ivermectin to treat Covid.
This type of action will not help to solve the problem. As well as adding to the commotion and further confusing the people, lobbying behind closed doors will harm the independence of the BPOM. In the interest of public safety, the institution must be free of intervention from all outside interests.
In the middle of this pandemic, inconsistency of policies between officials and the appearance of people with economic or political motives will only make matters worse. Only through a proper health apporach will the nation be able to protect its citizens.
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