Maharashtra May Soon Use Asthma Drug to Treat COVID Patients, Experts Peg It as a 'Game-Changer'

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India has broken the world record of the highest Covid-19 cases being recorded in a single day with a tally of over 3 lakh people getting infected with the virus on a daily basis for the past few days.

Medical infrastructure is facing its toughest test so far as hospitals are gasping for oxygen and patients are pleading for beds. No doubt the situation is grim, but, what if we were to tell you that the use of medical inhalers or inhaling Budesonide can be a game-changer for patients showing mild symptoms of Covid-19 infection.   

Dr. Rahul Pandit, who is a member of Maharashtra's Covid-19 task force says Inhaled budesonide is likely to be added to the list of medicines that could be used to support the treatment of COVID-19 patients.

Dr. Pandit who is also director of critical care at Fortis Hospitals, Mumbai, says, "The decision will be taken on the usage of Asthma inhalers soon, and implementing it won't be much of a problem since this can be given to mild and moderate patients who don't need hospitalization."  

This move is followed by a recent study showing encouraging results after usage of asthma inhalers for Covid-19 patients. 

A study conducted by researchers from the University of Oxford, published in The Lancet journal reveals that Inhaled Budesonide, which is a steroid used to treat asthma, can significantly reduce the likelihood of requiring urgent care, emergency consultation, or even hospitalization in early Covid-19 positive patients showing mild symptoms by 91 percent.

Study shows that use of medical inhalers not only helps in scaling down the need for urgent medical care but also reduces the recovery time taken by Covid-19 patients.

Experts say the use of asthma inhalers in fighting early Covid-19 infection could reduce the burden on medical infrastructure significantly and prove to be a game-changer.  

Adults over the age of 18 showing mild symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 like cough, fever, loss of smell received a budesonide dry powder inhaler at a dose of 800 μg twice a day.

Participants were asked to stop taking the inhaler when they felt they had recovered. The overall median duration of symptoms was 3 days and the median time to symptom resolution overall was 7 days (range 5–11). Budesonide was taken for a median duration of 7 days (range 4–10). 

One of India’s major drug manufacturers says there is a slight uptick in sales of asthma inhalers since the beginning of the pandemic. Some opinion leaders have been recommending the use of inhalers given the newer studies being conducted globally & in India. Only when more and doctors are made aware of the results, can they pass on the benefits to the patients of Covid-19 showing mild symptoms of the infection. 

Cipla, Lupin, Macleods Pharma, and Zydus Cadila are the leading manufacturers of inhaled budesonide – with Cipla’s ‘Budecort’ holding a lion’s share of 89% of the market. The market volume of the production of inhaled budesonide is approximately 14 crore units in a year (figures of March 2020 to March 2021).  

Analysts expect more and more states to follow Maharashtra’s example of using Asthma drug to treat Covid-19 patients with mild symptoms, thereby reducing the chances of hospitalization and in turn, taking the steam off the medical infrastructure of the country grappling with rising coronavirus cases. 

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