Ivermectin, Public Officials, and Alleged Political Proximity Surrounding it



Laila Afifa

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  • Ivermectine. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

    Ivermectine. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

    TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Ivermectin continues to be a hot topic of discussion after the antiparasitic drug - which has been excluded by India from its list of coronavirus treatment - was promoted by some notable individuals in Indonesia as a drug to treat Covid-19 patients. 

    The story of ivermectin has now entered a new chapter after the Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) revealed their findings related to the alleged political proximity between one of the drug’s producers PT Harsen Laboratories, Presidential Chief of Staff Moeldoko, and PDIP politician Ribka Tjiptaning. 

    ICW political corruption researcher, Egi Primayogha, said this allegedly shows attempts to profit from the pandemic through political networking. 

    “Picture a company trying to gain profit and they establish networks with many sectors, including politicians and public officials,” said Primayogha in a discussion held virtually on July 22. 

    Prior to the ICW research, Tempo Magazine revealed similar lobbying attempts allegedly acted out by PT Harsen to help approve the antiparasitic drug as a cure for Covid-19.

    The findings are summarized as follows:

    1. BPOM Blocks PT Harsen from Distributing the Drug

    BPOM blocked the drug producer from continuing the distribution of the antiparasitic drug earlier this month, which was first known from the statement of Riyo Kristian Utomo, who was said to be the director of PT Harsen.

    He said that at the time, the BPOM had blocked his company from distributing the drug. Utomo claimed the blockage was done on Tuesday and lasted until Thursday, July 1. However, Image Dynamics recently denied Utomo’s membership as a PT Harsen employee. 

    “For days they checked every invoice in the factory. They seem to not want the drug to be used against Covid-19,” Riyo Kristian Utomo  stated. 

    The BPOM chairperson Penny Lukito found that the company had violated production processes and committed a number of other violations. Not long after, PT Harsen Laboratories denied ever producing an official statement regarding the BPOM blockading its distribution and did not acknowledge Riyo Kristianto Utomo as one of its employees. 

    2. The story of PT Harsen approaching Defense Minister Prabowo

    Tempo Magazine’s July 3 edition revealed PT Harsen allegedly attempted to lobby a number of public officials to help pass the antiparasitic drug as a Covid-19 therapeutic drug. In early 2021, the company had approached the Defense Ministry through. The company’s VP Sofia Koswara in an online discussion on June 28, 2021, claimed they met with Prabowo Subianto’s personal doctor and special staffer Benyamin Paulus Octavianus. 

    A member of the Ivermectin clinical trial team member, Budhi Antariksa, was also present during the same online discussion and claimed to have met with the Defense Minister and hoped that the drug would help protect healthcare workers and National Armed Forces personnel against Covid-19. “He thinks that Ivermectin can be used for prevention,” said Antariksa, as reported byTempo Magazine. 

    Moreover, Antariksa said the meeting was facilitated by his colleague and pulmonologist, Benyamin. The meeting continued in a discussion with officials in the Defense Directorate General’s Health Directory on the use of the drug. 

    Two people in Prabowo Subianto’s circle said the Defense Ministry obtained thousands of Ivermax from PT Harsen. Benyamin claimed the discussion regarding Ivermectin only took place within the Defense Ministry’s Directorate General of Health and denied that Prabowo Subianto had ever received funding from Ivermectin.