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A look at the three medications President Trump is taking to treat COVID-19, and what they do

A box of Dexamethasone tablets.
A box of Dexamethasone tablets.Matthew Horwood/Getty

President Trump’s physicians are giving him several medications, including experimental drugs, in hopes of relieving his COVID-19 symptoms and possibly shortening the duration of his illness.

Trump, who is 74 and overweight, is considered at higher than average risk for potential medical complications. He was admitted to the Walter Reed National Military Center last Friday where he is undergoing treatment.

Doctors have offered rosy assessments of Trump’s condition, but the few medical details that have been disclosed suggest to many infectious disease experts that he is suffering a more severe case of COVID-19 than Trump’s physicians have acknowledged.

While many questions still remain, here’s a look at the medications the president has been taking so far, what they do, and what kind of patients often receive them.

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Regeneron’s monoclonal antibody therapy

On Friday, Trump was given an experimental drug that Regeneron Pharmaceuticals is testing to supply antibodies to help his immune system fight the virus.

There are no approved treatments for COVID-19, but the Regeneron treatment is one of the most promising candidates, according to experts. Initial results have suggested they can reduce the level of the virus in the body and possibly shorten hospital stays if they are administered early in the course of infection.

While not authorized by the Food and Drug Administration, it is being offered as part of clinical trials, and companies can grant access to their experimental treatments for compassionate use, for example, if all other options have failed and a patient might die without trying the drug, according to a New York Times report.

The White House said on Friday that the president was also taking zinc, vitamin D, famotidine, melatonin, and a daily aspirin.

Remdesivir

Trump is also being given a five-day course of the antiviral drug remdesivir, one of the doctors treating the president said Saturday. Remdesivir is a Gilead Sciences drug currently used for moderately and severely ill patients. The treatment is intended to shorten recovery time.

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Trump was given the first dose of remdesivir Friday evening, according to one of the doctors who is treating the president.

In May, remdesivir became the first therapy drug to be issued an emergency use authorization for COVID-19 in the US. In late August, the FDA extended the emergency use authorization to all patients hospitalized with COVID-19, regardless of the severity of their condition.

Dexamethasone

Trump was also given the corticosteroid dexamethasone on Saturday after his oxygen levels apparently dipped, according to White House physician Dr. Sean Conley.

In an interview with CNN, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, chief of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital, said dexamethasone is generally used when patients are heading down the wrong path, and the drug is typically given to patients on supplemental oxygen or needing ventilation.

The drug has been used to treat some COVID-19 patients since early on in the pandemic and underwent a randomized study in the UK that found a low-dose regimen for 10 days reduced deaths by a third among hospitalized patients requiring ventilation.

Material from the Globe’s wire services was used in this report.


Brittany Bowker can be reached at brittany.bowker@globe.com. Follower her on Twitter @brittbowker.