Oct 6, 2021
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Half of patients with COVID-19 in Russia are prescribed drugs with unproven efficacy

1532 specialists from all federal districts took part in the survey. Doctors were asked to answer two questions: what drugs they prescribe for the treatment of COVID-19 and which ones they themselves consider to be the most effective and safe. The respondents were asked to choose several drugs from the list, a total of 11 names.

It turned out that in 66.6% of cases, patients are prescribed dexamethasone and in 63.7% – paracetamol. Both of these drugs have proven efficacy in the treatment of COVID-19 – dexamethasone is widely used worldwide to suppress systemic inflammation, paracetamol is used as an antipyretic and analgesic.

However, 53.9% of doctors prescribe favipiravir, which has not been confirmed to be effective in numerous studies, and as a result, WHO did not include it in its recommendations for the treatment of coronavirus. Preparations with this active ingredient are far from safe: they can cause complications in the heart, an increase in uric acid in the blood, which can lead to severe kidney and joint diseases. Favipiravir is contraindicated in pregnant women due to the high risk of intrauterine growth disorders.

Another 46.3% of patients are prescribed umifenovir, known under the trademark Arbidol, 43.4% – interferon-alpha, aka Grippferon. So far, no research has confirmed the effectiveness of Arbidol in the treatment of COVID-19 or other respiratory infections. In the new version of the interim recommendations of the Ministry of Health for the treatment and prevention of coronavirus, the drug is excluded from therapy for critically ill patients.

Interferon alpha also cannot be called an effective remedy for COVID-19. The results of a small study of this drug that was conducted in China cannot be clearly interpreted.

At the same time, the survey showed that the specialists themselves are quite attentive to the issue of the effectiveness of drugs. Dexamethasone is in the first place among medical workers; 58% of the surveyed specialists consider it effective and safe. Paracetamol was chosen by 31% of doctors, 29.2% – the anticoagulant apixaban. True, another 42.2% of respondents voted for favipiravir, 34.2% – for interferon-alpha.

“If doctors could prescribe drugs themselves, without looking at clinical recommendations and guidelines from the management, they would choose more effective drugs,” says Igor Stepanyukov, CEO of

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