A number of well-meaning people sent me a 31 minute you tube video of an interview with a Texas physician who claimed to have a cure for Covid-19. They wanted to know my opinion. I aspired to be dismissive, but sometimes fell short of that. Frankly, I was surprised that people would believe this guy. I was also surprised that someone would put him on television. This falls under the category of if it sounds to good to be true it usually is. I didn’t want to mention his name because he has already surpassed his allotted 15 minutes of fame, but it is in the news clip that follows. Briefly, he claimed that using a common asthma medication had cured all of his patients. He also claimed that this was why other countries had lower rates of death due to Covid-19. Even in desperate times, we don’t try medications on our patients outside of a clinical trial. There could be untoward side effects caused by using it with this particular disease. But don’t believe me. Here is Dr. Ruth Berggren being interviewed. Dr. Berggren is an infectious disease specialist at UT Health San Antonio where she is Director of the Center for Medical Humanities and Ethics. She also serves on Covid-19 Health Transition Team. Dr. Berggren is no stranger to disaster. Before coming to San Antonio she worked at Charity Hospital in New Orleans. From the New York Times:
“Dr. Ruth Berggren, an infectious disease specialist who five years ago stayed behind at Charity Hospital in New Orleans taking care of the H.I.V. patients left stranded by Hurricane Katrina.
Hurricane Katrina would test the doctor patient relationship and the clinicians’ limits of compassion, patient advocacy and professionalism. Trapped within the confines of their hospital with 18 seriously ill patients, Dr. Berggren and the two teams of nurses and support personnel who stayed behind first lost power, then food and very nearly their hope. In the overbearing humidity, the darkened central stairwell, the only passage to other parts of the hospital, quickly became a treacherous obstacle course, slippery from human sweat. Vending machines, smashed open with bare hands, stood empty in small puddles of blood. The air grew increasingly rank, as people, lost in dark hallways, began defecating and urinating wherever they could.
Dr. Bergren and her team were finally rescued six days later, but only after every one of their patients on 9 West had been evacuated first.”
Here’s what she had to say about the Covid cure in a local TV interview.
Is inhaled steroid budesonide really ‘silver bullet’ for COVID-19?
West Texas doctor, Richard Bartlett, claims he’s found the best treatment for the new coronavirus
SAN ANTONIO – A West Texas doctor is getting a lot of attention for his claims that the inhaled steroid budesonide is the “silver bullet” for COVID-19.
Dr. Richard Bartlett, a general physician who practices at various clinics in the Midland-Odessa area says he’s had 100% success rate treating dozens of patients with the drug.
Clips from his media interviews have gone viral on social media and some have speculated that other doctors are overlooking a cure.
“It’s like this medicine was made for this pandemic,” Bartlett told News West 9.
We ran this claim through our Trust Index and determined people should be careful.
KSAT asked Dr. Ruth Berggren, an infectious disease specialist at the UT Health San Antonio’s Long School of Medicine about claims that budesonide is the key to curing coronavirus cases.
“So this is a premature declaration of a cure,” Berggren said.
She said budesonide is a known medicine with important indications but says it should be studied before it’s widely used.
“Let me tell you something that should cause everyone to press the pause button on this budesonide idea,” Berggren said. “There’s a signal that suggests that if you give steroids, immunosuppressive medications, early in the course of the disease when you need your immune system to be fighting off the virus, you could possibly make things worse.”
Berggren said there was a large randomized trial of another steroid called dexamethasone in the United Kingdom which found that treating patients who had oxygen deficits orally or intravenously with the drug did reduce mortality, but the drug increased the death rate in patients who did not have oxygen deficits.
She said we won’t know if the same holds true for budesonide until it’s studied properly.
“I absolutely think that inhaled steroids need to be studied, and they need to be studied in a prospective randomized blinded fashion so that we can all learn whether they help and then how to use them safely and wisely,” Berggen said.
She warned against off-label use or hoarding of the drug.
“There’s even a possibility that if you use these steroids too early or too much of them, that you could harm yourself and worsen your chances of surviving COVID-19,” Berggren said.
Berggren isn’t the only doctor expressing concern over Bartlett’s claims.
Dr. Rohith Saravanan, the Chief Medical Officer at Odessa Regional Medical Center, told CBS 7, “As of right now, there is no widespread use of budesonide, and that’s not what the NIH recommends.”
“I just want to caution everybody to be careful,” Dr. Larry Wilson, CMO at Midland Memorial Hospital, told CBS 7. “If it’s being described as a silver bullet, if you’re hearing about things that are just so perfect that it’s too good to be true, it probably is.”
HERE ENDETH THE LESSON.