By Genalyn Kabiling and Dhel Nazario
The steroid drug dexamethasone is not the miracle pill President Duterte is hoping for since it can possibly treat only a small percentage of severely ill coronavirus patients, according to a Palace official.
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said they welcome the initial United Kingdom clinical trial results on the medication as a potential COVID-19 treatment, but they prefer a drug that can deliver 100 percent treatment of the illness.
“We definitely welcome it although we don’t think it is a miracle pill kasi ang findings it can save about 30 percent of seriously ill patients,” Roque said during a Palace press briefing.
“We want a cure that will save a 100 percent if not a majority of those who fall seriously ill,” he added.
As this developed, another steroid will be tested by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) if it will be better compared to the dexamethasone in the study by the United Kingdom.
DOST Secretary Fortunato dela Pena said that they are waiting for the proposal for the testing of the steroid which he did not name.
“Merong plano kasi although hinihintay pa namin yung proposal na i-test yung isa pang steroid one on one with dexamethasone; ibig sabihin titingnan kung how does it compare with dexamethasone,” the secretary said.
(There is a plan although we are waiting for the proposal to test the other steroid one-on-one with dexamethasone which means we will see how does it compare with dexamethasone.)
The secretary said that they initially pursued dexamethasone but after the study of the researchers in the UK were released they opted to wait for the proposal of another steroid.
“Actually nung una dexamethasone din in combination with another steroid pero nagkaroon na ng release na okay na siya di na yun ang aming ipupursue,” Dela Pena said.
(Actually at first we were supposed to test dexamethasone in combination with another steroid but since there has been a study that it is okay we will no longer pursue it.)
The secretary said that once they receive the proposal they will be testing it against dexamethasone to find out which is more effective.
Secretary Roque nonetheless welcomed the “good news” that dexamethasone, a drug used to reduce inflammation, is a cheap and widely available medical product.
“Pero nagagalak kami na kahit papaano mayroon pag-asa na 30 percent effective itong gamot na ito para isalba ang mga critically ill (But we are glad that at least there is hope the drug is 30 percent effective to save critical ill patients),” he said.
The University of Oxford recently conducted clinical tests on dexamethasone and initially found it can suppress inflammatory responses in some patients with severe coronavirus patients.
The World Health Organization has reportedly welcomed the preliminary test results on dexamethasone but reminded that such drug must only be used in severe cases under close medical supervision. The global health body is expected to update its clinical guidance on the use of dexamethasone.
Last Tuesday, the President announced plans to purchase the “miracle pill” for the new coronavirus disease and supervise its distribution to the people once it becomes available in the market.
Duterte explained that he intends to oversee the distribution of the potential coronavirus medicine so “everybody gets a fair share of the medicine and the medical care.”
“The only way to fight COVID is vaccine or maybe ‘yung miracle pill that would kill just as an antibiotic would kill a bacteria,” Duterte said in his televised public address. He did not identify the so-called miracle pill in his speech.