Special Assistant to the P.M. on Health warns citizens against using steroid as preventative measure, stressing it is only for critical cases
The Government of Pakistan has decided to task a technical team to review the effectiveness of using the dexamethasone steroid as a potential treatment for critically ill patients of COVID-19, Special Assistant to the P.M. on Health Dr. Zafar Mirza said on Wednesday.
In a posting on Twitter, he said that the decision had been taken after the World Health Organization (WHO) welcomed the results of a clinical trial conducted in the U.K. that had shown dexamethasone could alleviate the symptoms of 1 in 8 critically ill coronavirus patients. He said dexamethasone was “an old and cheap anti-inflammatory medicine” that was already being produced by multiple companies in Pakistan.
However, sounding a note of caution, the special assistant warned that the drug was not a preventative measure. “It is ONLY for critically ill COVID-19 patients i.e. those on oxygen and ventilators,” he said, adding that the medicine should not be used to treat mild to moderate cases. “Self-medication is strictly prohibited and can be dangerous as the medicine has many side-effects,” he added.
The Punjab government on Tuesday issued a notification clarifying that it had started monitoring the sale and distribution of dexamethasone (injection and tablet) to prevent hoarding and profiteering and reserve stocks specifically for treatment of COVID-19 patients. Recent price hikes in several drugs being used to treat coronavirus have prompted the move.
Dexamethasone is effective in 1 in 8 critically ill patients whose lungs are too damaged for proper oxygen saturation, according to the U.K. study. While it can prove lifesaving for some, it has no effect on serious patients.