Egypt warns that COVID-19 drug dexamethasone has potentially dangerous side effects

Ahram Online , Wednesday 17 Jun 2020

A health worker wearing protective gear prepares to take swab samples from people lining up in their cars to test for the coronavirus at a drive-through COVID-19 screening center at Ain Shams University in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, June 17, 2020 AP
The Egyptian Drug Authority (EDA) has warned that cheap steroid drug Dexamethasone, which has been hailed as a major breakthrough in the fight against the coronavirus, has many adverse side effects.
If used without medical supervision, the drug may lead to many medical complications including immune system suppression, swelling in the face and limbs, muscle weakness, the slow healing of wounds, gastrointestinal bleeding, epileptic seizures, high blood pressure, hyperglycemia, and heart failure, the EDA said in an statement late on Tuesday.
The warning came a few hours after the World Health Organisation (WHO) described dexamethasone as a lifesaving treatment for patients who are critically ill with COVID-19 and patients on ventilators.
The drug is still in the clinical trial stage, the Egyptian drug authority said, adding that it has been tried under medical supervision on only a limited number of COVID-19 patients on ventilators.
According to preliminary findings shared by the WHO, the treatment has been shown to reduce mortality in the UK by about one-third, and for patients requiring only oxygen, the mortality rate was cut by about one-fifth.
The medication, which has been roundly lauded by British experts, has been described as a major breakthrough in treating COVID-19.
Tuesday's statement called on all citizens to refer to medical service providers before taking dexamethasone or any other medications to treat COVID-19.
Dexamethasone is sold for EGP 15 (approximately $1) in Egypt.  
The country has had a total of 47,856 coronavirus cases, including 1,766 fatalities.
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