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June 18, 2020, 09.28 PM – As countries around the world continue their search for a Covid-19 vaccine, the drug dexamethasone has been promoted as a potential solution.

Hope for the drug has risen after the World Health Organization announced it halted testing of malaria drug hydroxychloroquine following clinical observations it showed no efficacy on improving the condition of Covid-19 patients.

A team from Oxford University in the United Kingdom hailed dexamethasone as a breakthrough in the fight against the coronavirus on Tuesday, June 16.

The scientists revealed that tests on thousands of Covid-19 patients showed that it reduced fatality rates among those terminally ill from the disease.

Dexamethasone’s characteristics

But before authorities can tout dexamethasone as a miracle cure, questions have arisen about the drug and its characteristics. This is no less the case in Indonesia.

“Dexamethasone is an anti-inflammatory medication that is characterized as a potent drug,” said Dr. Wawaimuli Arozal, the head of the Pharmacology and Therapy department of Universitas Indonesia’s Faculty of Medicine.

Also read: Get to Know More About Cordyceps Militaris for COVID-19 Treatment

“Dexamethasone is classified as a cortisol-steroid medication. It is usually used to treat patients with severe headaches, severe inflammation, and autoimmune diseases,” she said. “Dosage for tablets are usually 0.5 milligrams. But injections vary with the severity of the symptoms.”

Risks for certain medical conditions

While many in the public and medical professions are ready to rejoice because of dexamethasone’s potential benefits, Wawaimuli warned against premature celebrations.

“[Dexamethasone’s] tests on gravely ill Covid-19 patients might yield promising results. But it is actually not a recommended treatment because it suppresses the immune system,” she said. “To eliminate a virus like Covid–19, one needs a healthy immune system.”

Dexamethasone tabletsdr. Ari Fahrial Syam Dexamethasone tablets

“Dexamethasone is also not recommended for those with hypertension, diabetes, or bacterial and viral infections. It also has a number of side effects, such as pulmonary edema, osteoporosis, hypertension and mental problems, so one has to be careful in its usage.”

WebMD confirmed Wawaimuli’s findings as it found that dexamethasone can reduce the body’s natural defenses.

Also read: Australia's Rp. 61 Billion Plan to Aid Indonesia's Coronavirus Pandemic Fight

However, dexamethasone can treat arthritis, allergies, some skin and eye conditions, blood-related disorders, breathing problems, as well as certain cancers and intestinal problems. The website added that the drug can also treat Cushing’s syndrome, an adrenal glandural disorder.

Recommended use

WebMD noted that dexamethasone can be orally consumed. They suggested that patients carefully determine the dosage and not use spoons. They also recommend taking the drug before 9 am.

The website’s doctors said the amount of the dosage and length of the treatment are relative to the patient’s medical condition and response to the treatment.

WebMD suggested that patients keep consuming dexamethasone on a regular basis to maximize its effects, and not stop before consulting with a doctor.

They noted in some instances that stopping treatment worsens the symptoms. However experts suggest reducing the dosage. 

(Writer: Retia Kartika Dewi/ Editor: Sari Hardiyanto)


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