my son joel was going on 4 in 1977 when he came home from pre-school running a slight fever. lagnat-laki lang, i hoped, and started giving him tempra.  when the fever kept coming back and going up, i took him to his pediatrician who said to continue with the meds plus lots of water. but over the next day the fever was up to 39.5, and creeping closer and closer to 40; he was barely eating, and mostly throwing up the medicine and the little food i could force, beg, him to swallow.  freaking out, we brought him to Lourdes Hospital’s ER where the residents took one look at his inner arm, near the joint…pointed to tiny red dots i hadn’t noticed (or maybe they had just come out), and at once proceeded to draw blood for lab tests while also inserting an IV needle.  he struggled and cried and screamed, of course; i could only help hold him down.  H-fever, i.e, hemorrhagic fever, also known as dengue, was the diagnosis.  he needed transfusions, 3 bags of platelets.  it was nerve-wracking.  what if we didn’t bring him in when we did?

later, whenever i would hear news of sudden deaths by dengue, i’d remember, always, how swiftly the virus multiplies to a critical point and, lacking medical intervention, simply takes over and kills.  so, truly, the october 20 news report of a “breakthrough drug” vs. dengue, endorsed by dr. enrique ona, the DOH secretary, no less, was fantastic news for public health.

Ona said that “on March 15, Preferred and Proven Therapies Inc., ActRx Foundation and ActRx Operational Group, together with PITAHC and San Lazaro Hospital for Infectious Diseases medical research team, presented a report showing the remarkable success of the clinical trials conducted at San Lazaro Hospital on ActRx TriAct, a patented herbal-based combination of Artesunate, Berberine and Artemether as therapy treatment for dengue.”

alas, just eight (8) days after that october 20 public announcement, dr. ona went on leave, ostensibly over a pneumonia-vaccine controversy.  but suddenly there were also reports of dr. ona being in trouble over the anti-dengue drug.  i sent links on the subject to my brother butch for a medical opinion; a few days later he sent me this: Dengue, Drugs, Death and Politics, which i posted in my november 30 entry, in defense of dr. ona.

to our surprise, comments were largely negative, basically harping on the danger posed to public health by ona’s endorsement of a mysterious drug of unproven safety and efficacy.  since then, we have been combing the Web for additional information, looking for something from the ona camp that would debunk the allegations, point by point.  instead we kept coming up against blank walls, and even more questions than answers.

consider, for instance, this timeline: september 24, ona issued DOH order no. 2014-016 authorizing the use of ActRx TriAct in the treatment of dengue cases. however, we do not hear about this wonderful news until almost a month later, on october 20.  *bakit kaya*  and then just 8 days later, on october 28 he goes on a month-long leave; dr. janet garin is named acting DOH secretary.  november 14, garin suspends the anti-dengue drug. however, we do not hear about this “welcome”news until December 1.  *bakit kaya*  and then december 2, from right field, came news of a promising dengue vaccine, aha!  can this be WHY the demolition job on ona and ActRx TriAct?  but we could use both a vaccine AND an anti-dengue therapy treatment!

and we sure could use a critical and perspicacious media who would know to ask around and ferret out the facts vs. what seems to be black propaganda meant to stop ActRx TriAct in its tracks.  like, i’ve been waiting to read something from senator heherson alvarez’s hexilon (CEO of Preferred and Proven Therapies, Inc.) that would elaborate on the success story of this anti-dengue treatment beyond the few soundbites in a tv news report.  where are our investigative journalists when we need them?