Dexamethasone to be available on NHS as COVID-19 treatment

The UK government has approved dexamethasone to be available on the NHS, following clinical trials proving its efficacy at reducing the risk of death for COVID-19 patients.


The UK government has authorised the National Health Service (NHS) to use dexamethoasone, the world’s first COVID-19 treatment proven to reduce the risk of death. The drug has been approved to treat all UK hospitalised COVID-19 patients requiring oxygen, including those on ventilators.

The drug has been proven to reduce the risk of death significantly in COVID-19 patients on ventilation by as much as 35 percent and patients on oxygen by 20 percent, reducing the total 28-day mortality rate by 17 percent.

The government has taken action to secure supplies of dexamethasone in the UK, buying additional stocks ahead of time in the event of a positive trial outcome. This means there is already enough treatment for over 200,000 people from stockpiles alone.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Now, the standard treatment for COVID-19 will include dexamethasone, helping save thousands of lives while we deal with this terrible virus. Guided by the science, the UK is leading the way in the global fight against coronavirus – with the best clinical trials, the best vaccine development and the best immunology research in the world.”

The drug has also been added to the government’s parallel export list, which bans companies from buying medicines meant for UK patients and selling them on for a higher price in another country. This is meant to protect supply for patients by enforcing regulatory action on those who flout the restrictions.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, said: “The positive findings on dexamethasone follow the disappointing findings on hydroxychloroquine. Together these two results illustrate the power of properly conducted clinical trials and the inherent danger of assuming things work without robust data. Whilst tempting to do otherwise, it is always better to wait for the evidence. On the dexamethasone findings, this is very encouraging because the signal on reduced mortality applies to many of the patients admitted to hospitals and the drug is comparatively low priced and available worldwide.”