The Daily Telegraph

Med­i­cal ex­perts baf­fled over the range of drugs given to pres­i­dent

- By Do­minic Penna Health · Medications · Medicine · Pharmacology · Infectious Diseases · Industries · Health Conditions · Donald Trump · Washington · World Health Organization · United Kingdom · Oxford University · Oxford · United States of America · European Union · Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. · Pharmaceutical Industry · Walter Reed · Martindale, TX

THE range of drugs be­ing taken by Don­ald Trump to treat his coro­n­avirus in­fec­tion has led to con­fu­sion among med­i­cal ex­perts over his health, with some con­vinced the use of dex­am­etha­sone, a pow­er­ful steroid, means he is se­ri­ously un­well.

Oth­ers, how­ever, be­lieve he is be­ing over­med­i­cated af­ter re­ports of the long list of med­i­ca­tion he is re­ceiv­ing at the Wal­ter Reed Army Med­i­cal Cen­tre in Washington.

Mr Trump will take dex­am­etha­sone “for the time be­ing”, said his physi­cian, in ad­di­tion to remde­sivir – an an­tivi­ral – plus vi­ta­min D and an an­ti­body cock­tail.

Dex­am­etha­sone is a cheap and widely avail­able drug that has been on the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion list of es­sen­tial medicines since 1997. Man­u­fac­tured in the UK by firms in­clud­ing Martin­dale Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, the drug re­duces the risk of death in coro­n­avirus pa­tients on ven­ti­la­tors by one third. Among those who are not on ven­ti­la­tors, this fig­ure is around one fifth.

How­ever, sci­en­tists agree dex­am­etha­sone has no ben­e­fit to pa­tients who are not se­ri­ously ill, and the WHO cau­tions against its use in mild cases, while more than two weeks of us­age can in­cur weight gain and mood swings.

“It’s not ef­fec­tive in pa­tients who do not re­quire oxy­gen, ven­ti­la­tory sup­port and so on,” said Martin Lan­dray, the Ox­ford Univer­sity pro­fes­sor who led a trial in June prov­ing its ef­fec­tive­ness in se­ri­ous cases. An­other drug given to the pres­i­dent is remde­sivir, an an­tivi­ral ini­tially de­vel­oped to treat Ebola and ad­min­is­tered to Amer­ica’s first Covid-19 pa­tient in Jan­uary. It has re­ceived emer­gency au­tho­ri­sa­tion in the US to treat se­vere cases, and Euro­pean Union ap­proval for coro­n­avirus pa­tients aged over 12 with pneu­mo­nia.

While there were great hopes for remde­sivir at the be­gin­ning of the pan­demic, it has not proven to be a gamechange­r. While US data found it can re­duce re­cov­ery time, a Bri­tish Med­i­cal Jour­nal pa­per con­cluded remde­sivir may have “lit­tle or no ef­fect” on the du­ra­tion of hos­pi­tal stays.

Be­fore his trans­fer to hos­pi­tal, Mr Trump took an an­ti­body cock­tail – pro­duced by US firm Re­gen­eron – which re­mains an ex­per­i­men­tal ther­apy with­out reg­u­la­tory ap­proval. Known as mon­o­clonal an­ti­bod­ies, the treat­ments are used for con­di­tions in­clud­ing can­cer and arthri­tis.

‘It’s not ef­fec­tive in pa­tients who do not re­quire oxy­gen, ven­ti­la­tory sup­port and so on’

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