News : A low-cost, widely used steroid, dexamethasone, has become the subject of discussion after researchers from the Recovery Trial reported that it helps reduce death rates in certain Covid-19 patients.
What is dexamethasone?
- It is an anti-inflammatory drug, commonly used to treat conditions in which the body’s immune system does not function properly, and causes inflammation and tissue damage.
- Dexamethasone reduces the production of the chemicals that cause inflammation and also reduces the activity of the immune system by affecting the way white blood cells function.
- Dexamethasone falls in a category called corticosteroids, which closely mimic cortisol, the hormone naturally produced by the adrenal glands in humans.
- It is commonly used in treatment for rheumatological inflammatory conditions: inflammations of muscles, inflammation of blood vessels, chronic arthritis, and lupus.
- It is used in lung diseases, kidney inflammation and eye inflammation, and to reduce swelling associated with tumours of the brain and spine. In cancer patients, it is used to treat nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy drugs.
How useful is it in Covid-19 treatment?
- There is no specific proven treatment for Covid-19 yet. Patients are being administered different drugs that are approved for treating for other diseases.
- During the SARS outbreak in 2003, corticosteroid therapy was used to reduce inflammatory-induced lung injury. In Covid-19, too, many countries are investigating the effectiveness of corticosteroid therapy on patients with an acute respiratory infection.
- Also, the World Health Organization (WHO) has prioritised the evaluation of corticosteroids in clinical trials to assess safety and efficacy.