Press Release/17 June 2020
The Department of Health (DOH) today cautioned the public against the unregulated use of a steroid that researchers in England found can improve COVID-19 survival among certain patients.
In its June 17 media forum, Health Undersecretary Dr. Maria Rosario Singh-Vergeire cautioned the public against non-prescribed purchase and use of dexamethasone as either for prophylaxis or cure from the SARS-CoV-2 virus which causes COVID-19.
“Dexamethasone is a type of steroid medication that is currently indicated in the treatment of different conditions such as severe allergies, preterm labor, and as adjunct in certain chemotherapy regimens. We strongly urge the public not to rush to the drugstores, buy this drug, and take it without the supervision of a doctor, in order to be cured or be protected from the virus,” Singh-Vergeire said.
“It is highly important to note that though this may be considered as a breakthrough in science, the study on this drug as a cure for COVID-19 is yet to be peer reviewed. Furthermore, it is intended as part of supportive care and is not meant to be a cure or prophylaxis for the disease. There is still no vaccine or cure for COVID-19,” she continued.
Dexamethasone landed in the news when researchers from England reported that deaths in severely ill COVID-19 patients on mechanical ventilation decreased by one-third with the inclusion of dexamethasone in their treatment, while it reduced deaths among patients receiving oxygen by one-fifth. However the study found no benefit in patients with mild disease who do not require respiratory support.
Health undersecretary stressed that dexamethasone has only been used and found effective for patients who were already seriously ill due to COVID-19. “Dexamethasone has only been given to patients who are critically hospitalized, those who are already intubated and supported by a ventilator, or those who require oxygen therapy,” she said.
Singh-Vergeire further emphasized that dexamethasone is only a supportive drug for the critically ill COVID-19 patients.
“We want to remind and warn the public not to buy or worse—hoard it—in the hope of self-medicating or taking it as prophylaxis. There is still no prophylaxis nor vaccine for COVID-19, and the most effective way to protect ourselves is by continuing to practice regular handwashing, wearing of masks and other appropriate PPE, practicing cough etiquette, and physical distancing.”
Moreover, the health official addressed concerns regarding Fabunan Antiviral Injection, amuch talked about drug which also reportedly contains dexamethasone. The spokesperson noted that as of this report, the vaccine has not yet applied for drug trials under the Food and Drug Administration. As such, the Department of Health cannot guarantee the safety, efficacy, nor purity of this specific combination of drugs.
“Dexamethasone is yet to undergo further trials and review, but we assure the public that the DOH is in coordination with the global medical community. The department remains in close collaboration with different experts both locally and internationally in the search for a cure and other treatments that are safe and effective against COVID-19,” Singh-Vergeire concluded.