A very cheap drug used to treat COVID-19 has been found to be effective enough to help women deal with period pain.
A £5 drug to treat period pain
Dexamethasone—the drug in question—is the steroid that was used to treat former US president Donald Trump during his bout of coronavirus last year. According to research conducted by the University of Edinburgh, the dug, which only costs £5 per patient, can be used to treat people who suffer from menorrhagia.
Statistics show that one in five women suffer from the period-related disorder which prolongs bleeding during menstruation and can also lead to anaemia, fatigue and pain. On a psychological level, it can also force sufferers to stay in their homes out of fears of social embarrassment. If the drug is approved for use, this would make it the first new option to treat the condition in the last two decades.
A first of its kind
As it stands currently, people who menstruate with heavier-than-normal periods can be prescribed intrauterine systems—a small plastic device that release hormones in the womb cavity. However, the treatment has been met with criticism as it is also conducive to causing mood swings, skin problems and breast tenderness—not to mention painful when they are first put in.
On the other hand, dexamethasone, which has been used since the 60s to treat conditions such as lupus, would be the first of its kind to be used as a non-invasive treatment. Study author Professor Hilary Critchley said:
Menstruation and heavy menstrual bleeding are still taboo topics and the debilitating impact of the latter is under-reported by patients. Our findings open the way for further study of dexamethasone as a possible safe and effective therapy.
While fellow researcher Dr Pamela Warner said:
This trial evolved from groundbreaking laboratory research and years of multi-disciplinary collaboration between clinicians and methodologists, combined with specialist expertise in new efficient and ethical approaches to trial design. It has been an exciting and gratifying journey.