Cheap and generic steroid is first 'life-saving' coronavirus drug

Cheap and generic steroid is first 'life-saving' coronavirus drug
Credit: NIAID/Public Domain (CC BY 2.0)

A cheap generic drug has been proven to be the first medicine capable of saving the lives of patients with serious Covid-19 symptoms, researchers confirmed Tuesday.

Successful results in using dexamethasone, a cheap and widely available steroid, to treat Covid-19 patients with serious symptoms were hailed as a "major breakthrough" by UK researchers leading the RECOVERY Covid-19 drug trial.

Peter Horby, who is co-leading the trial, said that the steroid is "the only drug that’s so far shown to reduce mortality," Reuters reports.

Trials showed that using low-dose dexamethasone cut down the risk of death by a third on patients who were put on a ventilator and by a fifth on patients who were receiving oxygen treatment.

Co-research lead Martin Landray of Oxford University said that the results showed that giving the generic drug to Covid-19 patients on oxygen and on ventilators saved lives "at a remarkably low cost."

"The treatment is up to 10 days of dexamethasone and it costs about £5 [€5.6] per patient. So essentially it costs £35 [€39] to save a life. This is a drug that is globally available," Landray said, BBC reports.

Landray said that the drug brought a "clear benefit" for patients who develop the most serious risks of Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus fueling the current pandemic.

While use of the drug in trials prevented the death of one in eight ventilated patients and of one in 25 patients on oxygen treatment, researchers said that it was unclear whether the drug was effective on patients with mild symptoms, and said people should not take the medicine on their own.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times

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