Don't simply consume dexamethasone, advises medical group in Malaysia

PHOTO: The Star/Asia News Network

PETALING JAYA - Medical Mythbusters Malaysia (M3) advises the public not to simply purchase and consume dexamethasone, after studies revealed that the steroid could reduce death rates by around a third among the most severely ill Covid-19 patients.

Pharmacist Fahmi Hassan said that dexamethasone was a steroid that is used to reduce inflammation in the body and that it had no effect on those who did not need breathing support.

"Covid-19 patients who are severely ill have a high rate of inflammation. That is why it is effective on severe patients but not on other patients.

"The uncontrolled use of steroids can have other serious side effects," he said in a social media post.

M3 is a Facebook page managed by doctors and pharmacists who will answer queries posted to them about medical matters.

It was set up to disseminate accurate, credible information to the public quickly.

Fahmi advised people to practise good hygiene, avoid crowded places, and use face masks when going to public places or if they are displaying symptoms of the disease.

"Get treatment at the clinic or hospital if you have symptoms or are unwell. Don't be too clever and buy or use dexamethasone," he said.

Experts in the United Kingdom were reported to have said that dexamethasone - which is available cheaply - cuts the risk of death by a third for patients on ventilators while for those on oxygen, it cut deaths by a fifth.

According to a BBC report, researchers said that up to 5,000 lives could have been saved if the drug was used to treat patients in the UK from the start of the pandemic.

The trial, led by a team from Oxford University, compared about 2,000 hospital patients given dexamethasone with more than 4,000 who were not.

For patients on ventilators, it cut the risk of death from 40 per cent to 28 per cent while for patients needing oxygen, it cut the risk of death from 25 per cent to 20 per cent.

For the latest updates on the coronavirus, visit here.