Inhaled budesonide, a drug commonly used for asthma, appeared to reduce the need for hospitalization for COVID-19, according to a study from the University of Oxford.
Researchers conducted a 28-day study of 148 patients, half of which took 800 micrograms of the inhaled budesonide, sold as AstraZeneca’s Pulmicort, twice per day.
The findings suggested that inhaled budesonide reduced the risk of urgent care or hospitalization by 90 percent within the study period, the school said. The study also found that the drug had a “quicker resolution of fever, symptoms, and fewer persistent symptoms” after 28 days.
Oxford University said the trial was inspired by the fact that patients with chronic respiratory disease, who are often prescribed inhaled steroids, were under-represented among those who were admitted to the hospital with COVID-19 early in the pandemic.
The findings were published on the pre-print server medRxiv, and have not been peer reviewed.
“The vaccine programs are really exciting, but we know that these will take some time to reach everyone across the world,” Professor Mona Bafadhel, who led the trial, said in a statement. “I am heartened that a relatively safe, widely available and well studied medicine such as an inhaled steroid could have an impact on the pressures we are experiencing during the pandemic."
The trial was funded by the NIHR Biomedical Research Center and AstraZeneca, with which Oxford University co-created the COVID-19 vaccine AZD1222.