Following the dexamethasone COVID-19 drug news as it unfolds today

Health 3 weeks ago HealthNewsReview 33

I’m flying solo while trying to catch up on today’s news on preliminary announcement of trial results of the drug dexamethasone for COVID-19 patients.

What follows is a series of tweets in response to what the Associated Press, CNN, the BBC, the New York Times, and some smart physicians on Twitter have written. Among the key points:

  • The trial results have not been peer-reviewed or published yet.
  • Some experts are hesitant to make conclusive statements until they can scour all of the data, which are not yet available.
  • One thing that is lacking in the early reports – much of it via PR news release – is any discussion of side effects from dexamethasone – a steroid drug.

This thread began when an old friend, a Minneapolis journalist, asked me to weigh in on CNN’s report about the drug trial.

Appropriately, 2nd graf stresses “Their findings are preliminary, still being compiled and have not been published in a peer-reviewed journal.” But smart folks are calling top line results impressive. Old, cheap drug – testament to repurposing AND to randomized clinical trials.

— Gary Schwitzer (@garyschwitzer) June 16, 2020

It will be great news if dexamethasone, a cheap steroid, really does cut deaths by 1/3 in ventilated patients with COVID19, but after all the retractions and walk backs, it is unacceptable to tout study results by press release without releasing the paper.

— Atul Gawande (@Atul_Gawande) June 16, 2020

Summary statement:

The data released on dexamethasone for covid-19 via press release show an enormous effect size among intubated patients.

This will either turn out to be:

A) Huge news.
B) Huge disappointment.

I hope it’s the first option!

We’ll know when we see the data!

— Jeremy Faust MD MS (@jeremyfaust) June 16, 2020

Seems like if there was ever time for a preprint, this is it. Nice job on your story. Bach’s input raising possible questions about applicability in US is noteworthy.

— Gary Schwitzer (@garyschwitzer) June 16, 2020

Quoting Boris Johnson as your only ‘independent’ perspective on the dexamethasone story is not ideal. Also no mention that this is not yet peer reviewed.

— Gary Schwitzer (@garyschwitzer) June 16, 2020

.@nytimes piece on dexamethasone ends with ?s from those pushing for data to be published. What was patient severity? What were side effects, neurological outcomes? “No clue!” wrote @jeremyfaust

— Gary Schwitzer (@garyschwitzer) June 16, 2020

Science by press release is just promises with numbers sprinkled on it. GIVE. US. THE. GODDAMN. PAPER.

(Thank God this exists so I don’t have to write something similar which is both worse and ruder. @angie_rasmussen for PM.)

— 🏴James Heathers 🏴 (@jamesheathers) June 16, 2020

How is it that dexamethasone…

…a drug that has been tried for every disease, just about

…that works decently for some things, and not at all in others,

…somehow hits its first grand slam EVER,

…with an illness that has so greatly eluded our best efforts to treat it?

— Jeremy Faust MD MS (@jeremyfaust) June 16, 2020

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