Prednisone, dexamethasone, and methylprednisolone are corticosteroids, similar to the cortisone naturally produced in the human adrenal glands atop the kidneys. They are anti-inflammatory, and are used to treat conditions caused by inflammation, such as psoriasis, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis, and certain types of cancer. When corticosteroids are taken for a longer period of time and discontinued suddenly the condition they treated can suddenly worsen and the body cannot catch up to start producing natural steroids again. For this reason, dose packs are given, to taper treatment off gradually. For most of us it would be difficult to remember to take, say, 6 tablets on day one, 5 tablets on day two, 4 tablets on day three, and so on until we reached the last tablet on day six. Dose packs are blister packages labelled for each day, with a row of pills for that day. This makes it difficult for the most absent-minded among us to make a mistake.
Differences in dose packs
- Prednisone comes in dose packs with either 2.5mg, 4.0mg, 5.0mg, 10.0mg, 20mg or 50 mg pills.
- Dexamethasone is available in dose packs of 0.5mg and 1.5mg.
- Methylprednisolone is available in dose packs of 4.0mg
Possible side effects
With the exception of patients who lack normal cortisone levels, patients should avoid taking corticosteroid treatments permanently. Side effects can include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Skin thinning
- Abnormal sweating
- Weight gain
- Allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis
- Heart failure
- Water retention
- High blood pressure
- Muscle weakness
- Weak and broken bones
- Tendon rupture
- Stomach ulcer
- Slowed growth in children
- Eye pain
- Double or blurred vision
- Convulsions (seizures)
Cost of corticosteroid dose packs
The price of a methylprednisolone dose pack ranges from $10.00 to $13.00 for a 6 day, 21 tablet dose pack, strength 4mg.
The price of a dexamethasone dose pack ranges from $53.00 to $266.00 for a 6 day, 21 tablet dose pack, strength 1.5 mg.
How to obtain a prescription for steroids?
Corticosteroids are available only with a prescription from a physician or other licensed prescriber. Did you know? QuickMD can treat your inflammatory condition remotely by telemedicine and prescribe corticosteroids online via video or phone.