Tuesday, 29 November, 2022
HomeHealthIndia adds dexamethasone in protocol to treat moderate Covid cases on oxygen...

India adds dexamethasone in protocol to treat moderate Covid cases on oxygen support

Dexamethasone was approved after its efficacy was tested under the RECOVERY trial conducted by the Oxford University.

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New Delhi: Dexamethasone, an inexpensive but life-saving drug, is now a part of India’s approved clinical management protocol for the novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19), which is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The drug can be used for moderate cases which require oxygen support.

Dexamethasone is a corticosteroid used to suppress skin allergies and treat rheumatic disorders. Its efficacy in reducing the mortality rate of the disease was proved by researchers at the University of Oxford who studied the drug as part of the RECOVERY trial. After significant positive results, the dexamethasone arm of the trial now stands suspended.

The total number of Covid-19 cases in India touched 5,08,953 Saturday, with the addition of 18,552 new cases and 384 deaths.


Also read: What is dexamethasone? The anti-inflammatory steroid being touted as new Covid treatment hope


RECOVERY trial paved the way

In a statement issued Saturday, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said that the drug could be used for a “wide range of conditions” given its anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressant effects.

“The drug has been tested in hospitalised patients with COVID-19 in the RECOVERY clinical trial and was found to have benefits for critically ill patients and has been shown to reduce mortality by about one-third for patients on ventilators, and by about one-fifth for patients being maintained on oxygen therapy. The drug is also a part of the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) and is widely available,” the statement read.

While other investigational therapies like remdesivir, tocilizumab and convalescent plasma therapy continue to be a part of the clinical management protocol, one very important factor in the use of dexamethasone is that it is available at very low prices.

As part of the NLEM and therefore among drugs whose prices are regulated by the government, an increased demand during the pandemic is unlikely to increase its price.

Some brands are available for as little as Rs 10 for a strip of 30 tablets.

Hydroxychloroquine too remains a part of the clinical management protocol.


Also read: Low-cost steroid dexamethasone becomes first drug to improve Covid patients’ survival


Side effects include suppressed immunity

The revised clinical management guidelines for moderate cases on oxygen support read: “Consider IV methylprednisolone 0.5 to 1 mg/kg OR Dexamethasone 0.1 to 0.2 mg/kg for 3 days (preferably within 48 hours of admission or if oxygen requirement is increasing and if inflammatory markers are increased).”

Further, it advises a review of the duration of the drug administration according to clinical response.

The reason why these medicines have to be used over the short term is that they have side-effects, the most crucial of which are suppression of the body’s natural immune system, which can make a user vulnerable to infections such as tuberculosis. It can also cause depression and weight gain.


Also read: Why coronavirus treatments shouldn’t take back seat to vaccines


 

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