Ghana’s Food and Drugs Authority says dexamethasone, a steroid drug that British medical scientists have hailed as a breakthrough in the fight against coronavirus should not be used for the prevention of COVID-19.
The FDA in a statement said dexamethasone is a corticosteroid medicine that can only be prescribed by a licensed medical practitioner for specific indications, warning that the drug has some serious side effects.
The medicine and food regulator said the drug has the potential to suppress the immune system which will counteract the body’s natural function to fight COVID-19.
“The public is therefore cautioned against the purchase, stocking and use of dexamethasone or any other corticosteroid medicine unless certified by healthcare professionals,” the statement said.
The FDA also stressed that dexamethasone is shown to “be beneficial only in preventing some deaths in COVID 19 patients on ventilators and oxygen and not asymptomatic or mild to moderately ill patients”.
“Dexamethasone suppresses the immune system, and in the UK study, this effect was beneficial and needed in order to suppress the clinically problematic excessive immune reaction in severe and critical COVID-19 cases.
“Dexamethasone should therefore NOT under any circumstances be used for the prevention of COVID-19 as its potential to suppress the immune system will counteract the body’s natural function to fight against COVID-19 and other infections in long term use.
“Dexamethasone is a corticosteroid medicine that can only be prescribed by a licensed medical practitioner for specific indications and can have some serious side effects”.
According to the FDA, the “Ministry of Health’s Provisional Standard Treatment Guideline for Novel Coronavirus infection (2020) has already made provisions for this category of patients by including another corticosteroid which will be used for similar indication should the need arise”.
African reaction to dexamethasone
South Africa’s ministerial advisory committee on Covid-19 said that administering dexamethasone intravenously for 10 days may be considered for Covid-19 patients who are on ventilator support.
In Kenya, where Covid-19 infections are surging, public health director Patrick Amoth tweeted that the dexamethasone has been used for “supportive management of Covid-19”.
Dr Amoth added that dexamethasone is already included in the Kenya Essential Medicines List 2019.
Nigeria has said that it will wait for the World Health Organization to clear the drug before starting its trials. In a statement on Twitter, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said the government had not validated trials of dexamethasone.
Source: General News