Government approves use of first tried-and-tested coronavirus drug treatment

The Government has today authorised the NHS use of the world’s first coronavirus treatment that has been proven to reduce the risk of death.

Tuesday, 16th June 2020, 6:12 pm
Updated Tuesday, 16th June 2020, 6:13 pm

Dexamethasone, an anti-inflammatory drug, has been immediately approved to treat all UK hospitalised COVID-19 patients requiring oxygen, including those on ventilators, from today (June 16).

The drug has been proven to reduce the risk of death in COVID-19 patients on ventilation by as much as 35 per cent and patients on oxygen by 20 per cent, reducing the total 28-day mortality rate by 17 per cent.

Funded by the UK Government, via the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the Oxford University UK RECOVERY trial is the first clinical trial anywhere in the world to show a treatment provides significant impact in reducing patient mortality.

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The first drug treatment for COVID-19 patients has been approved for use by the NHS.

The government has taken action to secure supplies of dexamethasone in the UK, buying additional stocks ahead of time in the event of a positive trial outcome. This means there is already enough treatment for over 200,000 people from stockpiles alone.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “I’m absolutely delighted that today we can announce the world’s first successful clinical trial for a treatment for COVID-19. This astounding breakthrough is testament to the incredible work being done by our scientists behind the scenes.

“From today the standard treatment for COVID-19 will include dexamethasone, helping save thousands of lives while we deal with this terrible virus.

“Guided by the science, the UK is leading the way in the global fight against coronavirus – with the best clinical trials, the best vaccine development and the best immunology research in the world.”

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said: “The positive findings on dexamethasone follow the disappointing findings on hydroxychloroquine. Together these two results illustrate the power of properly conducted clinical trials and the inherent danger of assuming things work without robust data.

“Whilst tempting to do otherwise, it is always better to wait for the evidence. On the dexamethasone findings, this is very encouraging because the signal on reduced mortality applies to many of the patients admitted to hospitals and the drug is comparatively low priced and available worldwide.”