Inhalable asthma treatment does not reduce number of days it takes to clear COVID-19 symptoms – but does lower risk of hospital visits linked to the virus
- Researchers compared symptomatic COVID-19 patients treated with ciclesonide compared to a placebo
- Ciclesonide is an inhalable treatment mainly used for asthma that helps reduce inflammation and swelling in the airways
- Patients given the drug did not see their symptoms clear in fewer days and recovered in the same amount of times as those in the placebo group
- Those treated with the drug were 0.18 times less likely to visit the hospital for any Covid reason and 0.45 times less likely to be hospitalized
An inhalable asthma treatment does not help lessen the number of days COVID-19 patients experience symptoms, a new study suggests.
A research team led by the University at Buffalo looked at ciclesonide, which reduces inflammation and swelling in the airways, compared to a placebo.
They found that Covid patients did not clear symptoms more quickly when they were given ciclesonide and, in fact, it took the same number of deaths for signs like coughing, shortness of breath and fever to disappear as those who were given a dummy pill.
However, the team did find that the treatment group was less likely to visit the emergency room or be hospitalized for reasons related to COVID-19.
Researchers compared symptomatic COVID-19 patients treated with ciclesonide – an inhalable treatment mainly used for asthma that helps reduce inflammation and swelling in the airways (above – compared to a placebo
Patients given the drug did not see their symptoms clear in fewer days and recovered in the same amount of times as those in the placebo group, but were less likely to be hospitalized. Pictured: A doctor tends to a patient on the COVID-19 intensive care unit at University Hospital Leipzig in Germany, November 2021
Ciclesonide belongs to a class of drugs known as corticosteroids, man-made drugs that closely resemble the hormone cortisol and treat a variety of conditions.
It is an inhalable medication used to prevent and reduce symptoms related to asthma attacks.
Ciclesonide reduces inflammation and swelling of the airways in the lungs to make breathing easier, but does not stop an asthma attack once it has started.
Because of its anti-inflammatory property, the therapy has received attention as a safe and inexpensive treatment method for Covid patients who aren’t hospitalized.
Past research has had mixed results with one study finding it did not reduce the time in which symptoms cleared but another finding it was 12 times more likely in those receiving the drug.
For the new study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, the team looked at 400 COVID-19 patients rolled and 10 centers across the U.S. between June 11, 2020 and November 20, 2020.
Half of the participants were treated with ciclesonide while the other half were given a placebo, and all had symptoms of Covid.
Researchers compared how long it took for all symptoms to disappear between the two groups.
They found there was no difference. In both cases, it took about 19 days for symptoms to disappear in both the treatment arm and the placebo arm.
‘No statistically significant difference was observed between participants who were treated with ciclesonide vs placebo for the primary efficacy end point,’ the authors wrote.
Next, the researchers examined the number of patients who ended up visiting the emergency room or the hospital for Covid-related reasons by day 30.
Just two of the patients needed to go to the hospital in the ciclesonide group compared to 11 in the placebo group.
After adjusting for other factors, the team determined the treatment group was 0.18 times likely to go the hospital and 0.45 times less likely to be hospitalized.
They say future research is needed to study whether the treatment can be used to lower the risk of hospitalization rather than clearing symptoms.
‘The results of this randomized clinical trial suggest that future studies of inhaled steroids are needed to explore their efficacy in patients with a high risk for disease progression and in reducing the incidence of long-term COVID-19 symptoms or postacute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2,’ the authors wrote.