The Japanese health ministry has approved a low-cost and widely available steroid drug, dexamethasone, for the treatment of patients suffering from Covid-19.

This marks the second approval for a Covid-19 treatment in the country, following the authorisation of Gilead Sciences’ antiviral drug remdesivir in May.

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The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry included dexamethasone as a government-approved drug in a recent version of its handbook for novel coronavirus treatment, reported Japan Times.

According to the revised handbook, dexamethasone showed promise in a clinical study performed by the University of Oxford in the UK.

Last month, the UK Government authorised the drug for the treatment of Covid-19 on the National Health Service (NHS), after the report of positive data from the RECOVERY trial.

Preliminary results showed that the drug reduced death by up to one third in hospitalised patients with severe respiratory complications caused by the novel coronavirus disease.

During the trial, 2,104 patients received dexamethasone compared with 4,321 patients on usual standard of care alone.

Dexamethasone was able to mitigate the risk of death by 35% in patients on ventilation and 20% in patients on oxygen, leading to a 17% decrease in the total 28-day mortality rate.

The drug was said to be the world’s first to demonstrated a significant reduction in patient mortality, with RECOVERY trial demonstrating the impact.

Reuters added that the full results of the trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine confirmed the drug’s benefits for patients with advanced or moderate disease.

Based on trial results, the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) revised its guidelines in June to recommend that dexamethasone can be given to patients needing ventilation and oxygen support.