Tags: Coronavirus | Health Topics | dexamethasone | covid-19

Dexamethasone Creating Cautious Optimism for Seriously Ill Coronavirus Patients

a box of dexamethasone tablets
A box of dexamethasone tablets (Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)

By    |   Wednesday, 17 June 2020 12:52 PM

A British study is offering new hope of an inexpensive, readily available treatment for seriously ill COVID-19 patients.

Researchers said Tuesday that dexamethasone, a synthetic steroid that's been around for approximately 60 years, cut the risk of dying by one-third for patients on ventilators and one-fifth for those on oxygen.

According to Axios, the inexpensive drug showed no benefit for mild cases of the coronavirus. However, one of the advantages dexamethasone has over other drugs that are being studied, such as remdesivir, is that its efficacy and safety have already been established.

Another reason is that the steroid appears to save lives, according to the British study, while remdesivir shortens the course of illness. And then there's the cost. According to Axios, dexamethasone casts about 50 cents per tablet, while market analysts predict Gilead Sciences may put a $5,000 price tag on each course of remdesivir.

According to CNBC, one of the co-authors of the U.K. study, Peter Horby, called the results "a major breakthrough."

It is "the only drug that's so far shown to reduce mortality — and it reduces it significantly," he said, according to CNBC. “Dexamethasone is inexpensive, on the shelf, and can be used immediately to save lives worldwide."

Nick Cammack, an expert on COVID-19 at the Wellcome Trust global health charity, said the results could "transform the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on lives and economics around the world."

"Countless lives will be saved globally," he said, CNBC reports.

In another CNBC story, former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said the British study results are "probably going to have an immediate impact on what doctors are doing in the ICU setting."

Gottlieb noted that more research is needed, but that the trial was "well designed."

Dexamethasone has been widely used to treat arthritis, asthma, allergic reactions, and other conditions caused by inflammation. It can be given orally or intravenously, according to CNBC.

"This is a very positive finding and it's a robust finding," said Gottlieb.

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A British study is offering new hope of an inexpensive, readily available treatment for seriously ill COVID-19 patients.
dexamethasone, covid-19
Wednesday, 17 June 2020 12:52 PM
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