A dose of prednisones will give you the most relief for ME, but it is likely that other medications are more effective, according to a new study.
This is because the drug is only effective if taken as prescribed, says study co-author Mark Janssen of the University of Edinburgh, who led the study published in Nature Medicine.
“When you use a different medication, there’s a mismatch in the concentration of your medication,” says Janssens.
“This makes it difficult to know which one is the best, and which one you should be taking.”
The study is the first to look at the effectiveness of predisone on ME.
Jansen says he and colleagues analysed data from 4,000 patients who had been treated with prednisolone over a two-year period.
The patients were recruited from the University Health Network, the UK’s national ME/CFS and COVID-19 registry, which includes patients aged between 45 and 75, and the Oxford and Oxford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
“The average duration of the disease was seven years,” says Dr Jansssen.
“But the median time was more than 10 years.”
The researchers found that patients treated with a different medicine had a significant reduction in the number of ME cases and deaths, and were less likely to die of the infection.
“Most of the patients treated responded well to prednisoone,” says study author Mark Jansen, from the Department of Medicine at the University’s Department of Neurology and Psychiatry.
“They had fewer symptoms, and there was no evidence of relapses.
But some of them were still at risk of developing new disease.”
The research team also examined the effectiveness and safety of two other antibiotics, rifampicin and fluoroquinolones, which are commonly prescribed to treat a variety of conditions including arthritis, and to treat pneumonia.
The researchers say this analysis suggests that the use of these medications for COVID or ME patients can improve the long-term effectiveness of the antibiotics.
Jansen says the findings will have a bearing on how to prescribe prednisopones to people who are already on an antibiotic, but may not have a particular need.
“We can’t prescribe predisones for people who aren’t already taking antibiotics, but we can make sure they are taking a prescribed antibiotic,” he says.
“That is an important consideration when prescribing prednisonoids.”
Jansson says the results could lead to new recommendations for prescribing antibiotics, as the number and type of antibiotics being prescribed could be affected by these results.
“In addition to their potential therapeutic benefit, the use and safety profile of predinoids is well established,” he adds.
The findings are published in the journal Nature Medicine, and are part of a wider programme by the University to identify novel and effective drugs that are able to be used for ME.
In February, the National Institute for Health Research announced that it was spending more than £1 billion over the next five years to develop new drugs for ME and COV-19.
The UK has the third-highest prevalence of COVID in the world, and a growing number of people are taking antibiotics for ME as a result.
However, there are currently no proven effective treatments for the illness, and people with COVID often experience severe side-effects.
More than 5,000 people have died in the UK since the disease first emerged in the early 2000s.
For people with ME, the chances of developing complications from antibiotics are also high.
“Many of these patients do not respond to antibiotics,” says Andrew Davenport, the chief executive of the ME Association UK, which represents a number of healthcare professionals.
“It’s critical that all the medicines we prescribe are safe and effective, but also that people who need them are able and willing to take them.”
The report, “Effect of predosopid on relapse in COVID/ME”, is published by the British Medical Journal and can be accessed here.
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