Covid-19: Dexamethasone has side effects, don't misuse it, says Health DG

PUTRAJAYA (June 18): The Health Ministry (MOH) yesterday advised the public not to consume or misuse the drug Dexamethasone to treat Covid-19 without a doctor’s prescription. 

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said this is because the drug had side effects and was also used to treat other illnesses.

“One of the side effects is the cushing syndrome, thinning of the skin, and some series of side effects like bone loss and muscle weakness.

“Depending on how long you use it, and (it will also cause) bone loss as well,” he said at the media briefing on the Covid-19 pandemic here yesterday.

Noor Hisham said Dexamethasone was a type of steroid used to reduce inflammation for several illnesses, including cancer.

“The Health Ministry takes cognisance of early developments in clinical trials for Dexamethasone in treating Covid-19, known as ‘Recovery Trial’ at the University of Oxford.

“Early findings show that the drug can reduce fatality risks by one third among Covid-19 patients with serious respiratory symptoms, especially Category 5 patients who require ventilators.

“However, the clinical trials also found that the drug was not effective in treating Covid-19 patients with mild symptoms or those who do not require breathing aid,” he said.

He said Dexamethasone is only for use at the intensive care unit with a maximum dosage of 4mg for five days among Category 5 patients.

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