A group pushing for the use of hydroxychloroquine as preventive medicine against COVID-19 is currently being investigated by the Philippine National Police, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said today.
Año called the Concerned Doctors and Citizens of the Philippines an illegitimate group and added that they may face criminal charges for organizing an event last week where they were seen sans facemasks. The group is headed by a former Department of Health (DOH) chief, Doctor Jaime Galvez Tan.
“They’re prescribing a medicine that is not authorized by the WHO (World Health Organization) and the DOH. That’s tough because people might get sick and suffer from side effects. Remember that hydroxychloroquine is used as a treatment against malaria and lupus. That cannot be used as prophylaxis,” he said in English and Filipino in a virtual press briefing.
He added that the group’s meeting in a hotel ballroom last week is a violation of the government’s health protocol as released by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases, of which he is a member.
“I’m warning that group. [What they have recommended] is not within the guidelines of the government’s policies and these also violate the protocols of the WHO. To our countrymen, listen to the authorities. Don’t listen to different groups because that could harm you,” he appealed.
In a statement issued by the Interior Department today, Año said that while Tan’s group may have “good intentions,” their actions show otherwise because they violated quarantine protocols by organizing their event.
“Maybe this group just wants to help the government so that the pandemic could be defeated, but their mass gathering and refusal to wear face masks is dangerous not just for them but for their respective families,” the secretary said.
Hydroxychloroquine is a controversial drug being promoted by U.S. President Donald Trump as a preventive measure against COVID-19 despite its unproven efficacy. In May, the Philippines stopped using hydroxychloroquine in its clinical trials on COVID-19 patients upon the recommendation of the WHO, which said it will review if the drug is safe for patients.
This article, Año issues stern warning against group pushing for alternative COVID treatment, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company.