Dexamethasone: Well-known anti-inflammatory drug lowers mortality in COVID-19
So far, there are only a few medicinal products that have been shown to help against COVID-19, a disease caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-Cov-2. Since the research and approval of new active substances takes a long time, researchers often concentrate on drugs that have already been approved. Dexamethasone is such a long-established active ingredient. Now there is evidence that the anti-inflammatory improves survival in COVID-19.
Dexamethasone, a long-established drug in the treatment of inflammation, could lower the death rate in severe COVID-19 courses. This is indicated by preliminary results of a clinical study that have not yet been published and have not yet been assessed by other experts.
Dexamethasone increases chances of survival in COVID-19
The death rate for patients who received artificial respiration and were given the medication decreased by a third, as the lead scientists from Oxford University report in a press release.
"Dexamethasone is the first drug that has been shown to improve survival at Covid-19," said Peter Horby, one of the leaders of the "Recovery" study. "Dexamethasone is inexpensive, available, and can be used immediately to save lives worldwide."
Uwe Janssens, President of the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine, describes the results as "highly interesting". The effectiveness of the anti-inflammatory drug is understandable. "Pathophysiologically, that makes perfect sense, since these are patients with the most severe inflammation."
Meanwhile, Tobias Welte from the Hannover Medical School (MHH) warns of rash euphoria. The result sounds impressive, but so far there is only one press release.
"Before you have seen the complete manuscript, assessed by independent experts, you cannot assess the value of the study," said the pneumologist. It is particularly important to see that the two groups are comparable, i.e. the dexamethasone group and the comparison group.
Reduced risk of death in patients with severe breathing complications
In the “Recovery” study, researchers are investigating the suitability of various previously approved drugs as a remedy for COVID-19. In total, more than 11,500 patients from over 175 clinics in the UK are enrolled in the study.
The dexamethasone part of the study therefore included a total of 2,104 patients who received six milligrams of dexamethasone once a day for ten days. 4,321 patients served as a control group.
The mortality rate after 28 days was highest among the artificially ventilated patients. Without dexamethasone treatment, it was 41 percent. In the test group, it dropped by a third. It decreased by a fifth for patients who received oxygen but were not given artificial respiration. The treatment had no effect on those who did not need oxygen at all.
Based on the numbers, dexamethasone would prevent death in the treatment of eight seriously ill COVID-19 patients, the release said.
"These preliminary results of the" Recovery "study are very clear - dexamethasone reduces the risk of death in patients with severe breathing complications," said Martin Landray, another study leader.
Frequently used active ingredient
Nick Cammack, COVID-19 research officer at the Wellcome Foundation, spoke of a breakthrough in a statement. The drug must now be made available to the thousands of seriously ill people worldwide.
The London-based Wellcome Foundation is committed to improving global health. The UK government's chief medical advisor, Chris Whitty, spoke of the most important outcome to date related to COVID-19.
Dexamethasone has been used in medicine for more than 50 years. The active ingredient is contained in a variety of drugs that suppress the immune system to stop allergic and inflammatory processes.
The active ingredient is used in neurology (for brain edema), respiratory diseases (asthma), dermatology, infectiology, oncology, rheumatology and ophthalmology. It can be administered both internally and externally. When given briefly, the risk of side effects is generally low. (ad; source: dpa)