Generic steroid drug Dexamethasone reduces deaths among severely-ill COVID-19 patients, claim UK researchers

Researchers in the UK have said that a recent clinical trial has shown that a generic steroid drug, dexamethasone, can reduce deaths among COVID-19 patients on ventilator by one-third

FP Staff June 16, 2020 21:06:50 IST
Generic steroid drug Dexamethasone reduces deaths among severely-ill COVID-19 patients, claim UK researchers

As researchers across the globe are racing to find a treatment for the novel coronavirus , a recent clinical trial has shown that a generic steroid drug, dexamethasone, can reduce deaths among COVID-19 patients on ventilator by one-third.

Researchers from the RECOVERY trial in the UK — which is testing the efficacy of a range of potential treatments for COVID-19 including Hydroxycholorquine and convalescent plasma therapy —  said that the drug reduces deaths by 35 percent in patients who needed treatment with breathing machines and by 20 percent in those only needing supplemental oxygen.

In a news release dated 16 June, the researchers said that a total of 2,104 patients were randomly selected to receive 6 mg dose of dexamethasone once daily for ten days either through IV or orally. The results were compared with over 4,000 patients who did not receive the drug.

Generic steroid drug Dexamethasone reduces deaths among severelyill COVID19 patients claim UK researchers

Representational image. Pixabay/Masum Ali

Dexamethasone reduced deaths by one-third in ventilated patients and by one fifth in other patients receiving oxygen only, found the trial while there was no benefit for less severely ill patients.

According to a BBC report, around 19 out of 20 coronavirus patients recover without being admitted to hospital. Most patients admitted to hospitals also recover, but some may need oxygen or mechanical ventilation. The drug dexamethasone appears to aid such high-risk patients requiring oxygen or ventilator support.

The release quotes Peter Horby, one of the chief investigators and a Oxford University professor as calling it an “extremely welcome result” and suggesting that the use of the during should become standard practice in treating such patients.

‘Dexamethasone is the first drug to be shown to improve survival in COVID-19 . This is an extremely welcome result. The survival benefit is clear and large in those patients who are sick enough to require oxygen treatment, so dexamethasone should now become standard of care in these patients. Dexamethasone is inexpensive, on the shelf, and can be used immediately to save lives worldwide.’

According to the BBC report, the drug is used to treat inflammation in a range of other conditions and may help to reduce the damage that happens when the immune system goes into overdrive fighting the virus.

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The UK Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, in the press release termed it a "ground- breaking development" and said,"This is tremendous news today from the RECOVERY trial showing that dexamethasone is the first drug to reduce mortality from COVID-19 . It is particularly exciting as this is an inexpensive widely available medicine."

As per the BBC report, co-lead researcher Prof Martin Landray said that when appropriate, hospital patients should be given the drug  without delay, but cautions people against buying it to take at home.

The full details of the study will be published soon, states the press release issued by the researchers.

The RECOVERY trial is funded by government health agencies in the United Kingdom and private donors including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The study has enrolled over 11,500 patients and is also studying the efficacy of Lopinavir-Ritonavir (used in the treatment of HIV-AIDS), Azithromycin and Tocilizumab (an anti-inflammatory treatment given by injection).

According to The Associated Press, this is the same study that earlier this month showed that the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine was not working against the coronavirus . The United States' Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also revoked the emergency authorisation for the malaria drug, stating that the drugs’ unproven benefits “do not outweigh the known and potential risks.”

There are currently no approved treatments or vaccines for COVID-19 , the illness caused by the new coronavirus which has killed more than 431,000 globally.

With inputs from AP

Updated Date:

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