By Sandy Fitzgerald | Monday, 06 July 2020 06:18 PM
A West Texas doctor says an inhaled steroid, budesonide, a drug commonly used to treat asthma, is the "silver bullet" for COVID-19.
"It's an inhaled steroid that doesn't have the side effects of total body steroids but it has the benefits," Dr. Richard Bartlett said in a recent interview with KWES-TV in Odessa. "It's like putting out a fire at the base of the fire. I'm having patients recover so quick."
Bartlett, an emergency room doctor for 28 years, said he has been treating high-risk COVID-19 patients such as the elderly or those with conditions such as heart disease and cancer, with the inhaled steroid. COVID-19 starts off in the respiratory system but then moves on to cause severe inflammation that leads to organ failure and death, but Bartlett claims the steroid stops that inflammation from happening.
He said his patients with COVID-19 are prescribed budesonide, which they inhale through a nebulizer twice daily, and they are telling him that within one treatment they feel better.
He told another news station, Midland CBS affiliate KOSA, the earlier the patient is treated, the better, and he's having a "100% survival rate."
"I don't even know how many I've treated . . . dozens," he said. "I have 14 that I'm treating right now."
The medicine has been on the market for 25 years, and is FDA approved but not for COVID-19. Bartlett, however, told the Odessa station that he's never seen the medicine work so well for anything else.
"It's like this medicine was made for this pandemic," he said.
Regional health officials, however, warned there have not been enough studies into Bartlett's claims.
"When we go look at a study," Odessa Regional Medical Center Chief Medical Officer Rohith Saravanan told the CBS affiliate. "If they say 'oh five cases, all solved. Magic pill. Silver bullet,' well that's not how science works. You take thousands and thousands of patients across multiple countries, multiple sites, you blind them, you control certain people, certain treatments. And then you compare the groups. It's not that he's doing something wrong. He's sharing what he found could be useful to the scientific community."