A box of Dexamethasone tablets
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- The health department is ready to immediately roll out dexamethasone to seriously ill Covid-19 patients.
- Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said there were three major suppliers of intravenous dexamethasone in the country.
- He added the drug had no benefit to patients who did not require an extra supply of oxygen.
The national Department of Health says South Africa is in a “favourable” position to immediately roll out dexamethasone to all seriously ill Covid-19 patients.
On Friday evening, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said the department had checked its stock and currently had around 300 000 ampoules, or vials, in the country.
“This is one of those medicines where we do have excellent local capacity.”
He added there were three major suppliers of intravenous dexamethasone in the country.
“One of the companies manufactures the oral equivalent and supplies it all over the world, and so we are able to negotiate the security of our own supply right here at home.
“In fact, to have a South African enterprise be a manufacturer and supplier of a critical medicine, especially one that will prove to be lifesaving in the current global context, is a real departure from the norm and so South Africans can take pride in being one of the countries that will provide a solution to a global crisis.”
Mkhize said he was excited about the recent breakthrough research of the recovery trial from Oxford University in the UK.
“Dexamethasone was found to reduce mortality by one third in patients who require ventilatory support and by one fifth in patients who require non-invasive supplementary oxygen.
“This is a significant breakthrough in evidence-based management of Covid-19. The study results are compelling because it was a randomised study that was able to recruit large numbers of participants.”
He, however, emphasised the study had showed no benefit for those patients who did not require oxygen supplementation.
“Since this announcement, we have looked into our own context and found that we are indeed in a favourable position. Our healthcare workers are very familiar with dexamethasone, having used it for decades as a registered medicine in South Africa.
“We are immediately able to offer all patients who need intravenous dexamethasone. Our Ministerial Advisory Committee on Covid-19 issued an advisory to recommend the use of dexamethasone for all patients on ventilators or requiring non-invasive supplementary oxygen,” Mkhize said.