UK Government Criticized for Blocking Dexamethasone Exports
The UK government’s decision to ban the export of dexamethasone, the inexpensive anti-inflammatory drug that’s shown promise as a COVID-19 treatment, is getting pushback from within the country.
Banning exports of the drug is “shortsighted and wrong,” argues Global Justice Now, a London-based group that advocates for global equality in drug access.
“A global pandemic needs a global response, and governments should be cooperating to make sure the available supply of effective treatments for COVID-19 is distributed equitably to those who need them most,” a spokesperson said. “This kind of nationalistic hoarding could well come back to haunt us.”
The export restriction, put in place to protect the UK’s supply of the steroid as demand surges, places the drug on the government’s “parallel export list,” which aims to prevent critical medicines from leaving the country.
The ban was announced by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) when the government approved the drug for the treatment of hospitalized COVID-19 patients who require oxygen, including those on ventilators (DID, June 19).
Results from the UK’s RECOVERY trial showed that dexamethasone reduced the risk of death in patients on ventilation by 35 percent and in those receiving supplemental oxygen by 20 percent.
The government said it currently has enough of the drug to treat more than 200,000 people, and it plans to secure more in anticipation of further positive findings from trials. — James Miessler