An inexpensive steroid, which is available from R149 as an injection in South Africa, has been hailed as a breakthrough treatment in reducing fatalities among severely ill Covid-19 patients.
On Tuesday, the University of Oxford said in a statement that Dexamethasone has been proven to reduce deaths by one-third in patients on ventilators. It has reportedly reduced fatalities by a fifth among those who received oxygen support.
The results came from the world’s biggest trial testing existing treatments on Covid-19 patients.
More than 11500 patients in 175 UK hospitals are reported to be part of the trial and more than 2100 of them received 6mg of dexamethasone once per day.
“It’s a startling result,” Kenneth Baillie, an intensive-care physician from the University of Edinburgh, who currently serves on the navigating committee of the trial, told Nature magazine. “It will clearly have a massive global impact.”
While daily doses of dexamethasone could prevent one in eight ventilated patient deaths and save one out of every 25 patients requiring oxygen, the study found that the steroid had reportedly no effect on outcomes among those with mild cases of Covid-19.
South African pharmaceutical giant, Aspen, produces dexamethasone injections in South Africa, and its CEO Stephen Saad confirmed to Business Insider SA that there should be sufficient supplies to meet local demand.
“It all depends on where and when we get the surges. We should be fine for South Africa, (as) we make this in South Africa.”
Other companies including Adcock Ingram and Sanofi are registered to distribute dexamethasone in South Africa.
The regulated price per dexamethasone injection costs between R149 and R176 in South Africa, this is typically used to treat arthritis and breathing disorders.