Asthma drug cuts need to send Covid patients to hospital by 90%

Common asthma drug cuts need to send Covid patients to hospital by 90 per cent and shortens recovery time, Oxford University scientists say

  • The findings were made following a mid-stage study of the steroid budesonide
  • Sold as as Pulmicort by AstraZeneca Plc, it is also used for treating smoker’s lung
  • Study of 146 patients found it reduced hospital admissions by 90 per cent

A commonly used asthma drug cuts the need to send Covid patients to hospital by 90 per cent and shortens recovery times, Oxford University said today.    

Budesonide is a steroid sold under the trade name Pulmicort by AstraZeneca Plc and is also used for treating smoker’s lung.  

The 28-day study of 146 patients suggested that those who inhaled budesonide reduced the risk of urgent care or hospitalization by 90 per cent when compared with usual care.

The steroid budesonide is sold under the trade name Pulmicort by AstraZeneca Plc and is also used for treating smoker’s lung

Researchers said the trial was inspired by the fact that patients with chronic respiratory disease, who are often prescribed inhaled steroids, were significantly under-represented among hospitalized COVID-19 patients during early days of the pandemic.

Initial data from the study also found volunteers treated with budesonide had a quicker resolution of fever and fewer persistent symptoms. 

Professor Mona Bafadhel, who led the trial, said: ‘There have been important breakthroughs in hospitalised COVID-19 patients, but equally important is treating early disease to prevent clinical deterioration and the need for urgent care and hospitalisation, especially to the billions of people worldwide who have limited access to hospital care.

‘The vaccine programmes are really exciting, but we know that these will take some time to reach everyone across the world.

‘I am heartened that a relatively safe, widely available and well studied medicine such as an inhaled steroid could have an impact on the pressures we are experiencing during the pandemic.’

Pulmicort was once a blockbuster drug for coronavirus vaccine-maker AstraZeneca, which now offers a newer medicine, Symbicort, as an alternative asthma treatment.

Results from the Oxford University study are yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal.

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