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Roche’s anti-inflammatory drug reduces deaths in hospitalised COVID-19 patients

Tocilizumab, marketed as Actemra/RoActemra, also reduced time spent in hospital in RECOVERY trial

Roche’s anti-inflammatory drug tocilizumab, marketed as Actemra/RoActemra, has been found to reduce the risk of death in patients hospitalised with COVID-19, according to a UK study.

Tocilizumab, which is commonly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, was found to reduce the relative risk of death by 14% when used alongside the steroid dexamethasone in COVID-19 patients requiring oxygen in the RECOVERY trial.

In June 2020, the RECOVERY trial found that dexamethasone reduced deaths by one-third in ventilated patients and by one fifth in other patients receiving oxygen only.

In the latest set of results, 29% of patients in the tocilizumab group died within 28 days compared to 33% of patients in the placebo group, which is an absolute difference of 4%.

The drug reduced the chance of death or the need for mechanical ventilation from 38% to 33%.

Treatment with tocilizumab, plus dexamethasone, also reduced the time patients spent in hospital by five days, the researchers found.

“The results from the RECOVERY trial clearly show the benefits of tocilizumab and dexamethasone in tackling the worst consequences of COVID-19 – improving survival, shortening hospital stay, and reducing the need for mechanical ventilators,” said Martin Landry, joint chief investigator of the RECOVERY trial.

“Used in combination, the impact is substantial. This is good news for patients and good news for the health services that care for them in the UK and around the world.

“We simply would not know this if it wasn’t for the incredible support of NHS patients and staff in the most challenging of circumstances,” he added.

The preliminary results are set to be submitted to a peer-reviewed medical journal, and will be made available via the preprint server medRxiv ‘shortly’.

Tocilizumab was added to the Oxford University-led RECOVERY trial in April, as well as the UK-based REMAP-CAP trial.

The RECOVERY trial is aiming to identify treatments that may be beneficial for people hospitalised with COVID-19.

The REMAP-CAP trial is an adaptive platform trial designed to evaluate multiple interventions simultaneously in critically-ill patients with COVID-19.

Results from the REMAP-CAP trial found that tocilizumab, as well as Sanofi’s Kevzara (sarilumab), reduced mortality by 8.6%, and also improved recovery times among patients who are critically ill with COVID-19.

This reflects a reduction in the relative risk of death by 24% when given to patients within 24 hours of entering intensive care.

The UK government said that it is ‘working closely’ with Roche to make sure that tocilizumab is available on the NHS for COVID-19 patients who are hospitalised.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

12th February 2021

From: Research

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