The government on Saturday allowed the use of the low-cost steroid drug dexamethasone as an alternative to methylprednisolone to treat coronavirus patients with moderate and severe symptoms. The World Health Organization had called for a rapid increase in production of dexamethasone, after British clinical trials found it had life-saving potential for critically-ill coronavirus patients.
The Union Health Ministry has put a revised version of "Clinical Management Protocol: COVID-19" - a document published for use by health professionals as a reference . Earlier this month, the ministry had added the loss of smell and taste as new symptoms of COVID-19 in the manual.
The use of dexamethasone, which is used to reduce inflammation in other diseases such as arthritis, has been cleared for patients in need of oxygen support and those who have excessive inflammatory response, the document states.
India has recorded the highest single-day jump of 18,552 fresh cases, pushing the total number of cases to 5,08,953, the latest data from the Health Ministry shows. India has the fourth-highest number of coronavirus cases among 10 nations worst-hit by coronavirus
Dexamethasone, a low-dose steroid, has been on the market for over 60 years and usually serves to reduce inflammation.
Recently, researchers led by a team from the University of Oxford administered dexamethasone to more than 2,000 severely ill patients hospitalised with the new coronavirus. Among those who could only breathe with the help of a ventilator, it reduced deaths by 35 percent.
The WHO emphasises that dexamethasone should only be used for patients with severe or critical disease, under close clinical supervision.
On Thursday, Hyderabad-based drugmaker Hetero, which has approval to manufacture and market the generic version of the experimental COVID-19 drug Remdesivir, sent 20,000 vials to five states including Maharashtra and Delhi - the two worst affected states in the country.
(With inputs from AFP and Reuters)