July 3, 2020 / 8:37 AM / a month ago

Steroid drug purchased for COVID patients in poor countries: U.N.

FILE PHOTO: An ampoule of Dexamethasone is seen during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in this picture illustration taken June 17, 2020. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

GENEVA (Reuters) - An initial purchase of the steroid dexamethasone, shown to be effective in treating severe or critical COVID-19 patients, will be made for up to 4.5 million people in low- and middle-income countries, agencies said on Friday.

The U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is negotiating the advance purchase under the deal led by UNITAID and Wellcome, as part of the World Health Organization’s plan to accelerate access to therapeutics, a joint statement said.

“With this advanced purchase we aim to ensure equitable access for low- and middle-income countries for treatment of COVID-19 with the life-saving drug dexamethasone, and avoid shortages resulting from high-levels of demand from other parts of the world,” said Philippe Duneton, acting executive director of UNITAID.

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Alison Williams

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