Prolonged higher dose methylprednisolone vs. conventional dexamethasone in COVID-19 pneumonia: a randomised controlled trial (MEDEAS)

Link to article at PubMed

Eur Respir J. 2022 Nov 10:2201514. doi: 10.1183/13993003.01514-2022. Online ahead of print.


INTRODUCTION: Dysregulated systemic inflammation is the primary driver of mortality in severe COVID-19 pneumonia. Current guidelines favor a 7-10-day course of any glucocorticoid equivalent to dexamethasone 6 mg·day-1. A comparative RCT with a higher dose and a longer duration of intervention was lacking.

METHODS: We conducted a multi-center, open-label RCT to investigate methylprednisolone 80 mg as a continuous daily infusion for 8 days followed by slow tapering versus dexamethasone 6 mg daily for up to 10 days in adult patients with COVID-19 pneumonia requiring oxygen or noninvasive respiratory support.

PRIMARY OUTCOME: reduction in 28-day mortality.

SECONDARY OUTCOMES: mechanical ventilation-free days at 28 days, need for ICU referral, length of hospitalisation, need for tracheostomy, changes in PaO2:FiO2 ratio, C-reactive protein levels and WHO clinical progression scale at days 3, 7, and 14.

RESULTS: 677 randomised patients were included. Findings are reported as methylprednisolone (n=337) versus dexamethasone (n=340). By day 28, there were no significant differences in mortality (35[10.4%] versus 41[12.1%]; p=0.49), nor in the median mechanical ventilation-free days (23[14] versus 24[16]; p=0.49). ICU referral was necessary in 41[12.2%] versus 45[13.2%]; p=0.68 and tracheostomy in 8[2.4%] versus 9[2.6%]; p=0.82. Survivors in the methylprednisolone group required a longer median hospitalisation (15[11] versus 14[11] days; p=0.005) and experienced an improvement in C-reactive protein levels, but not in PaO2:FiO2 ratio, at days 7 and 14. There were no differences in disease progression at the prespecified timepoints.

CONCLUSION: Prolonged, higher dose methylprednisolone did not reduce mortality at 28 days compared to conventional dexamethasone in COVID-19 pneumonia.

PMID:36356972 | DOI:10.1183/13993003.01514-2022

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