A hospital in Manila is planning to conduct clinical trials using the supplement melatonin to study if it can be beneficial for severe COVID-19 patients, an official from the Department of Science and Technology said today.
Secretary Fortunato dela Peña said that the government has allocated about PHP9.8 million (US$204,000) to conduct the clinical trials, which would require at least 300 COVID-19 patients.
The trials were proposed by the Manila Doctors’ Hospital, led by cardiologist Dr. Rafael Castillo.
“They observed at the Manila Doctors that those severe cases whom they have given melatonin saw some improvement. The patients did not deteriorate to the point that they will need intubation,” Secretary dela Peña told ABS-CBN’s Teleradyo in English and Filipino.
Melatonin is a supplement that helps patients sleep better. One doesn’t need a prescription to buy it in the Philippines, where it’s also sold online. The government is planning to use melatonin as an adjuvant and not the main form of treatment. Adjuvants are included in vaccines to boost a patient’s immune response.
“They (Manila Doctor’s) proposed [the clinical trial]. It’s quite big; about 300 participants are needed. So it’s not just on their side. They’re also looking at other hospitals where it can be done. I know that they are already in the recruitment process,” he said.
“This may take a while because they need 300 participants. Sleeping supplements usually have side effects. When you wake up, you feel like you have a hangover,” he said.
However, he said recruiting patients will be a challenge because fewer severe and moderate COVID-19 cases are being brought to Philippine hospitals at present.
“We’ve noticed these cases are becoming rare; they’re going down, right? Even for our VCO [virgin coconuts oil] trial at the PGH [Philippine General Hospital] for severe and moderate, we had a hard time looking for participants because there are fewer severe and moderate cases being admitted,” he said.
This article, PH gov’t looking for 300 COVID patients to undergo melatonin clinical trials, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company.