Study: Asthma drug Budesonide hastens recovery of COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms
Clipart of inhaler.
Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay.

Study: Asthma drug Budesonide hastens recovery of COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms

(Philstar.com) - April 13, 2021 - 10:47am

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 11:41 a.m.) — Asthma drug budesonide can hasten the recovery of COVID-19 patients at home with mild symptoms, according to new trial results from the United Kingdom.

“Early administration of inhaled budesonide reduced the likelihood of needing urgent medical care and reduced time to recovery after early COVID-19,” said the journal article on the trial published in The Lancet.

The study found that clinical recovery was a day shorter among patients who took budesonide compared to those who did not, with patients who took the asthma drug being feverish for fewer days.

There were also fewer patients who took budesonide who reported having persistent symptoms at the 14th and 28th day of sickness, compared to patients who only received usual care.

Blood oxygen saturations and viral load, however, were not different between patients who had budesonide and those who did not take the drug.

The study, funded by the National Institute for Health Research Biomedical Research Centre and drugmaker AstraZeneca, involved 146 participants, split equally into two groups, one of which would be given inhaled budesonide.

Those in the budesonide group were asked to take two inhalations of the drug twice a day until they no longer feel symptoms.

The same instructions were given to participants in a larger study that has not yet been peer-reviewed, which found that budesonide reduced recovery time by an average of three days. 

Budesonide vs Ivermectin

The Department of Health previously warned against using budesonide without a doctor’s prescription. It is also still not registered with the local Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a treatment for COVID-19, but is registered as an asthma drug.

"This is not a new drug. That is already registered and available in the Philippines," FDA Director General Eric Domingo told Philstar.com. "Doctors can prescribe a registered drug to their patients. They should explain the reason and effects of the drug to the patient."

Unlike budesonide, ivermectin is only registered as a topical drug in the country, although the FDA has already given an unspecified hospital a compassionate special permit to use it for the treatment of COVID-19.

Ivermectin's use for the treatment of COVID-19, however, still stands on shaky ground.

A systematic review of six randomized controlled trials of ivermectin by several medical groups in the country showed that it did not significantly reduce the risk of death, is not associated with a definite benefit in terms of other clinically important outcomes, did not significantly reduce time in the hospital, and the rate of hospital discharge did not differ significantly between patients who took the anti-parasitic drug and those who did not.

That said, dozens of clinical trials on the use of ivermectin for the treatment of COVID-19 are still ongoing, which means the final verdict for the anti-parasitic drug that is largely used in veterinary settings has yet to be handed. — Xave Gregorio with a report from James Relativo

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