Wonder’ drug against Covid-19 Dexamethasone goes missing from local market

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Zubair Qureshi

The low-priced and easily available medicine ‘Dexamethasone’ is no longer available at pharmacies in Pakistan. The situation turned grave and there was a trend of panic-buying of the medicine in Capital’s different markets on Friday particularly after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the medicine ‘first life-saving drug for critically ill coronavirus patients.’
The federal government’s health departments on Friday instructed their drug inspectors across the country to make sure the drug is available at the medical stores and pharmacies on the same old rates as approved by the drug regulatory authority.
According to a notification issued by the District Health Officer of Islamabad, Dr Zaeem Zia the department has taken notice of shortage of the drug Dexamethasone (tablet & injection).
“All the pharmacies shall ensure the uninterrupted supply and availability of the drug at the price fixed by Drug Regulatory Authority (DRAP)” thus directed the DHO adding, “the drug shall be sold to the customers with valid prescription of Registered Medical Practitioner (RMP).”
Dr Zaeem Zia, however, in a tweet made it clear “Dexamethasone does not cure COVID19.
It does not prevent Covid. It does not even help you if you have mild/no symptoms – it could even weaken your immune system early on.
It only works for severe COVID patients hospitalized on oxygen or ventilators. That is all!”
Deputy Commissioner of Islamabad Hamza Shafqaat while talking to Pakistan Observer said a criminal case would be registered against those involved in hoarding, profiteering and black marketing of the medicine. Conviction of the crime will lead to three years in prison, he further said.
Shafqaat stated that action was taken after receiving complaints about shortage of Dexamethasone tablets, which have reportedly been used to cure critical Covid-19 patients.
“It is a lifesaving drug and available in markets at cheap rates. Since the health ministry, expert doctors and BBC also announced that the drug can save a Covid-19 patient’s life, it has disappeared from the market.
Over disappearance of the drug, a survey was conducted and a report was also sought from police in this regard,” he stated, adding that teams were constituted to check whether the medicine was being hoarded.
Islamabad on Friday registered 9,941 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 95 deaths against Thursday’s figures of 9,637 and 94. This means in last twenty-four hours there was an increase of 300 new cases of confirmed infections because of coronavirus and one death.
The temporary improvement in the scenario can be attributed to the complete lockdown in various subsectors of G-9, I-8 and I-10. People are not allowed to leave their houses in these areas nor can outsiders enter these residential or commercial areas. Only complete lockdown and nothing else can work wonders against COVID-19, said a health official while talking to Pakistan Observer.

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