COVID-19: Why you shouldn’t self-medicate using dexamethasone


COVID-19: Why you shouldn't self-medicate using dexamethasone

In Summary

  • A trial by researchers in the United Kingdom showed dexamethasone as the first drug to save lives of COVID-19 patients in what scientists said was a major breakthrough.
  • The full results of the large randomised clinical trial released in the New England Journal of Medicine two months ago confirmed the benefits for people with advanced or moderate disease.
  • The preliminary results, which have not been peer-reviewed, suggested the drug should immediately become standard care in patients with severe cases of the pandemic disease.

Kenyans have been warned against self-medication and stockpiling dexamethasone or any other drug suggested as a cure for COVID-19.

The Pharmacy and Poisons Board stated that the steroid is strictly for patients who are hospitalized with acute respiratory distress and on respiratory support.

“Though some evidence has shown that dexamethasone can reduce the amount of time patients are on ventilators as well as mortality rates associated with the pandemic, this is yet to be reviewed,” the Board said in a statement.

Pharmacies and chemists have also been cautioned against dispensing the drug without a valid prescription.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has in the past noted the importance of reserving use of dexamethasone for treatment only of serious cases of COVID-19.

“It’s exceptionally important in these cases that the drug is reserved for severely ill and critical patients who can benefit from this clearly,” Mike Ryan, head of the World Health Organizations’s emergencies programme said in June.

And in July, Japan’s health ministry approved dexamethasone as a second treatment of COVID-19 after a trial in Britain showed the drug reduced death rates in hospitalised patients.

The ministry included dexamethasone as an option for treatment along with Gilead Sciences Inc’s antiviral drug remdesivir in a recent revision to its handbook.

The revision was widely reported by Japanese media on Wednesday and was viewed by Reuters.

A trial by researchers in the United Kingdom showed dexamethasone as the first drug to save lives of COVID-19 patients in what scientists said was a major breakthrough in the coronavirus pandemic.

The full results of the large randomised clinical trial released in the New England Journal of Medicine two months ago confirmed the benefits for people with advanced or moderate disease.

The preliminary results, which have not been peer-reviewed, suggested the drug should immediately become standard care in patients with severe cases of the pandemic disease.

They said they would work to publish the full details of the trial as soon as possible, and many scientists said they hope to be able to review the evidence for themselves soon, especially given the recent retraction of an influential COVID-19 study.

Britain’s health ministry wasted no time, saying the drug had been approved for use in the state-run health service, export restrictions had been introduced and 200,000 courses of the treatment had been stockpiled.

“This is a (trial) result that shows that if patients who have COVID-19 and are on ventilators or are on oxygen are given dexamethasone, it will save lives, and it will do so at a remarkably low cost,” said Martin Landray, an Oxford University professor co-leading the trial, known as the RECOVERY trial.

Additional report from Reuters

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