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Doctors warn that Covid patients are abusing medicine meant for severe cases

The B Medicine Bag, with anti-inflammatory and antibiotic drugs, prescribed for Covid-19 patients with severe symptoms, is being abused by patients with mild symptoms, which may cause serious consequences.

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Experts explain that there are three different medicine bags A, B, C for Covid-19 patient treatment at home. A medicine bag includes drugs for fever relief and physical condition enhancement, while the B medicine bag consists of anti-inflammatory and anticoagulants, and the C medicine bag the antiviral drug Molnupiravir.

Dr Le Ba Kong, Head of the Ba Chieu Ward Clinic in Thu Duc City, said many Covid patients in home quarantine in the locality are taking anti-inflammatory medicine (containing corticosteroids), though they were not prescribed.

“When we meet them at home, the patients say they are using this kind of medicine. We have to tell them to stop using the drugs without doctors’ prescriptions,” Kong said.

The clinic manages 8,000 Covid patients staying at home during the fourth pandemic wave. Under current regulations, when the patients contact local medical units, they receive medicine bags with introductions for use.

Many patients have been found abusing anti-inflammatory drugs, which result in bacterial contamination and infection. In some cases, they have to be hospitalized and treated at the highest level, with complicated techniques such as dialysis and ventilation.

Some patients said that the A Medicine Bag, with vitamins and Paracetamol, is not useful to treat Covid-19. They use the B Medicine Bag, believing that the drugs will help cure the disease more quickly.

The anti-inflammatory and anticoagulant drugs in bag B are enough for 3-day use. However, these are special drugs only used in special cases, with doctors’ prescriptions.

All medicine bags are delivered to people with instructions for use, but many people would rather “mistakenly take all drugs than miss any drug”. In many localities, medical units are overloaded, so patients don’t know whom to consult.

Dr Truong Huu Khanh from Children’s Hospital No 1 said it would be dangerous abusing the drugs when unnecessary.

The Covid-19 Center of Military Hospital 175 receives 20-30 severe cases a day, and many of them are hospitalized in a state of infection, caused by the long abuse of corticosteroid drugs.

Dr Vu Dinh An, Deputy Director of the center, said the drugs containing corticosteroids will reduce the ability of the immune response to bacteria. Lungs will suffer severe damage, and necrotizing inflammation may occur, which will take a long time to treat, and the mortality rate for this is high.

As for overweight and older Covid patients, the respiratory failure and complications will be unpredictable. An noted that many patients had used this kind of drugs for up to 15-20 days and were hospitalized in critical condition.

Dieu Ha Lam from Field Hospital No 3 in Thu Duc City confirmed that anti-inflammatory drugs bring good results in treating severe Covid-19 cases. The use of these drugs for patients who need ventilation can help reduce the mortality rate. However, this doesn’t mean that the drugs can be used by anyone.

The drug is only used for patients with respiratory failure, with the SpO2 (oxygen saturation) rate below 93 percent. The patients with only fever, cough, runny nose or headache don’t need to use it.

In addition to the B Medicine Bag delivered for free, people can receive donated drug bags. As lockdown has been lifted in HCM City, it’s easier to buy medicine. This has prompted many people to store anti-inflammatory and anticoagulant drugs as per the “advice” they find on the internet.

One doctor said the policy on delivering the B Medicine Bag should change and control over delivery must be tightened.

Thay thuoc dong hanh (Companion Physicians), a network of volunteer doctors, hotlines and mobile clinics, are now ready to give advice. Patients should consult with doctors before taking any drug to avoid adverse consequences. 

Linh Giao

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