Dexamethasone now being used to treat NHS patients

Dexamethasone now being used to treat NHS patients

Dexamethasone now being used to treat NHS patients

The life-saving drug Dexamethasone is now being used to treat Covid-19 patients in NHS hospitals across the UK from today.

This follows a breakthrough trial carried out by researchers at Oxford University.

Dexamethasone – a cheap, widely-available steroid – was shown to reduce deaths among patients on ventilators and on oxygen.

As there are no supply issues in the UK, medical officers have said that the drug should be used “with immediate effect”.

Experts in the UK have said that the low-dose steroid treatment is a major breakthrough in the fight against the deadly virus.

A ten-day course of treatment is recommended, and the drug costs only £5 per dose.

Researchers have estimated that if the drug had been available in the UK from the start of the coronavirus pandemic up to 5,000 lives could have been saved.

For patients on ventilators it cut death risk from 40% to 28%.

For patients needing oxygen it cut death risk from 25% to 20%.

Chief Investigator Prof Peter Horby said:

“This is the only drug so far that has been shown to reduce mortality and it reduces it significantly.

“It’s a major breakthrough.”

On Monday 15 June, 385 people with Covid-19 were on mechanical ventilation in hospitals in the UK with hundreds more likely to be on oxygen support.

They could all be candidates for receiving dexamethasone.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the Commons that 240,000 doses of the drug are “in stock and on order”.

“It is not by any means a cure but it is the best news we have had,” he added.

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