NEW DELHI: The Union Health Ministry on Saturday released an updated clinical management protocol for managing covid-19 cases advising to use dexamethasone as an alternative choice to methylprednisolone for managing moderate to severe cases of covid-19.
The change has been made after considering the latest available evidence and expert consultation, the government said.
Dexamethasone is a corticosteroid drug used in a wide range of conditions for its anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressant effects. The drug has been tested in hospitalized patients with covid-19 in the RECOVERY clinical trial and was found to have benefits for critically ill patients and has been shown to reduce mortality by about one third for patients on ventilators, and by about one fifth for patients being maintained on oxygen therapy. The drug is also a part of the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) and is widely available.
The Union Health Secretary, Preeti Sudan has forwarded the updated protocol with all States/UTs to make necessary arrangements for availability and use of the updated protocol and drug Dexamethasone at the institutional level also.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recently said that initial clinical trial results from Oxford University showed dexamethasone, to be lifesaving for critically ill covid-19 patients. For patients on ventilators, the treatment was shown to reduce deaths by a third, and for patients requiring only oxygen, mortality was cut by about a fifth, according to preliminary findings shared with WHO. However, the benefit was only seen in patients seriously ill with covid-19, and was not observed in patients with milder disease.