Data shows 610% increase in demand for dexamethasone to treat patients severely ill with COVID-19

July 1, 2020

Vizient, Inc. shared data showing a 610% increase in demand by its member hospitals for dexamethasone, a commonly used corticosteroid, in the week since the initial trial results of a clinical study conducted in the United Kingdom showed it reduced the mortality of patients who are severely ill with COVID-19. 

As a result of the spike in demand, fill rates for the products are now at 54% for Vizient member hospitals. 

“With the number of COVID cases continuing to persist across the U.S., news of a drug that has initially been shown to be effective for treating patients requiring oxygen or a ventilator is quickly adopted by clinicians who are treating the most severe patients. We looked at data on the day of the announcement of the trial’s results and saw that aggregated demand for dexamethasone vials and tablets had spiked 183%” said Dan Kistner, PharmD, group senior vice president, pharmacy solutions for Vizient. “Now, six days later, aggregated demand is up 610% and the fill rate has dropped from 97% to 54%.” 

Dexamethasone has been used since the 1960s to reduce inflammation in a range of conditions, including inflammatory disorders and certain cancers. It is categorized as a “high impact” drug in Vizient’s essential medicines list. Drugs in this category have alternatives available, but they may be less clinically desirable and/or are more operationally difficult to use, or where their absence can affect therapeutically-related drugs. 

While demand is surging, Kistner is cautiously optimistic that manufacturers and distributors will be able to adjust quickly to increase the availability of the drug and appropriately manage allocations as necessary. However, as the spike in demand illustrates, it is critically important for manufacturers to begin building additional resiliency into pharmaceutical inventory capacity given the potential for rapidly changing demand. 

“Dexamethasone is a workhorse drug for hospitals and it is good that there are several manufacturers in the supply chain. Vizient is in communications with both manufacturers and distributors about the increase in demand and will be monitoring availability and supply of various presentations of dexamethasone as we continue to see the increase in demand,” said Kistner. 

Vizient has the release

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