SA to issue guidelines for use of dexamethasone, Aspen confident about supply
The release of an Oxford University study on the use of dexamethasone in the treatment of critically-ill Covid-19 patients generated tremendous excitement this past week.
A clinical trial found that the well-known anti-inflammatory drug reduces deaths by one third in ventilated patients and by one fifth in patients receiving non-invasive supplementary oxygen.
In South Africa, the Health Department described it as "significant breakthrough" in evidence-based management of Covid-19.
On Friday night the department released a statement saying there are currently around 300,000 ampoules available in the country and it is ready to issue guidelines on the drug's use.
Whilst the MAC has made it clear their advisory is issued while awaiting the full study paper for closer assessment, we have learnt that leading clinicians in academic hospitals have been using the medicine and they are very excited that their anecdotal experiences have now been affirmed by higher levels of evidence. We therefore will be moving ahead to issue guidelines for the use of dexamethasone in all our facilities for desperately ill Covid-19 patients.Health Department statement
The drug can be administered orally or intravenously.
Aspen Pharmacare is one of the pharmaceutical companies that supplies the injectable form of dexamethasone in South Africa.
Stavros Nicolaou (senior executive for Strategic Trade Development) says there should not be a problem with supply.
Aspen is not the only supplier in South Africa because this product is an old product, but still effective... I'm confident between Aspen and the other suppliers that we're able to certainly keep the supplies stable and consistent in the country, which is the most important thing.Stavros Nicolaou, Senior executive for Strategic Trade Development - Aspen Pharmacare
He points out that the Oxford trial forms part of ongoing studies.
Their initial study of course targeted critically ill patients... I'm guessing that it will be applied in moderately ill patients as well to see what the response is.Stavros Nicolaou, Senior executive for Strategic Trade Development - Aspen Pharmacare
Nicolau also explains, in layman's terms, exactly how the drug works. Take a listen:
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