Can the market support hospital demand for the coronavirus drug dexamethasone?

Strong hospital demand for dexamethasone, which, in a study, British researchers say reduces mortality by a third among the sickest patients of COVID-19, is “outpacing the supply of the drug,” reports say, but inventories of hospitals are maintaining demand for now, according to drug buyer Vizient Inc,.

Vizient is a buyer of drugs for about half of U.S. hospitals, one outlet wrote, and company officials recently voiced concerns about whether the market can continue to keep hospitals in demand for the corticosteroid for use. common.

Hospitals and other industry clients advised by Vizient increased orders for the drug by 610 percent after researchers from the University of Oxford announced the findings of their study on June 16. Vizient said manufacturers could only fill 54 percent of those orders.

“Dexamethasone is a working drug for hospitals and it is good that there are multiple manufacturers in the supply chain,” said Dan Kistner, PharmD, group senior vice president, Pharmacy Solutions for Vizient. “Vizient is in communication with manufacturers and distributors about” The increased demand and will be monitoring the availability and supply of various presentations of dexamethasone as we continue to see increased demand. “

“What we hear from our members is that they can treat patients who require dexamethasone, they are treating them and they have a product,” Steven Lucio, Vizient vice president of pharmacy solutions, told Reuters. “The concern is, can the market continue to hold this?”


Dr. Imran Sharief, a lung disease specialist in California, told Fox News that none of the hospitals he serves were in short supply and that he has not heard of any problems.

According to Reuters, Vizient data shows that hospitals are increasingly using the drug to treat patients with COVID-19. Sharief said that, from the hospitals where he works, steroids, such as solumederal, used to treat patients with COVID-19, are made on a case-by-case basis in combination with other treatment, such as remdesivir, Actemra, or plasma from patients with COVID- 19 recovered. .

Fox News has contacted Vizient with a request for comment on this story.

He explained that steroids can suppress inflammation mediators and help with tissue repair.

Hospital inventories are keeping demand for the drug for now, though drug buyer Vizient Inc. Officials questioned how long the market can sustain demand.  (iStock)

Hospital inventories are keeping demand for the drug for now, though drug buyer Vizient Inc. Officials questioned how long the market can sustain demand. (iStock)

UK researchers said dexamethasone was found to reduce deaths in patients receiving oxygen by one-fifth and those in ventilators by one-third.


“That’s a pretty significant number if that’s the case,” Sharief said in response to the Oxford findings. “At this point, we will be cautious when using this medication. I think the best case scenario would be to continue evaluating patients on a case-by-case basis and we will wait for the data to be published. “

“This is something we are learning and doing what is best for our patients,” Sharief said.

The preliminary results of the study were announced on June 16, but were not released until Monday in the medRxiv repository.

While the study awaits peer review, Dr. Daniel Culver, a pulmonary and critical care physician at the Cleveland Clinic, told Fox News that “it is best not to be prematurely enraptured with dexamethasone.”


Culver also chairs a committee at the Cleveland Clinic that evaluates the clinical trials of COVID-19.

“As a general principle, this study should go through a peer review and also the scrutiny of the scientific community before widespread enactment and premature enthusiasm for the results,” Culver said. “The size of the promoted effect (magnitude of benefit) seems almost unbelievable compared to other evidence-based interventions in critically ill patients.”

Reuters reported that the injectable version of dexamethasone has been in short supply in the US since February last year, according to the US Food and Drug Administration.

According to the preliminary report by UK researchers, the study included oral or intravenous versions of the drug.

Kabi’s unit of German drug maker Fresenius SE claims it currently has a “good inventory” of the steroid available, but noted that production at three of its US factories will increase to keep up with demand, according to Reuters. , which noted that Fresenius SE’s Kabi unit is “by far” the largest provider in the US market.