Please login to the form below

Not currently logged in

Roche’s Actemra fails in late-stage severe COVID-19 study

Anti-inflammatory drug unable to improve clinical status of hospitalised patients


Roche’s hopes of repurposing its arthritis med Actmera as a treatment for COVID-19 have fallen flat after the drug failed to meet the primary endpoint in a key phase three trial.

Actemra (tocilizumab) did not meet its primary endpoint of improved clinical status in hospitalised adult patients with severe COVID-19 associated pneumonia in the phase 3 COVACTA study.

Although researchers observed a positive trend in the time it took to discharge patients from hospital following Actmera treatment, the drug failed to meet key secondary endpoints, which included a difference in patient mortality at week four.

The theory behind testing Actemra in this patient setting is based on the idea that its anti-inflammatory properties could counteract the overactive inflammatory responses observed in the lungs of critically ill and severely ill COVID-19 patients.

Unfortunately, this theory is proving less and less convincing, given that Actemra is not the first anti-inflammatory treatment to fail in a pivotal COVID-19 study. Sanofi/Regeneron’s IL-6 inhibitor Kevzara (sarilumab) was also unable to prevent death or help patients come off ventilation among mechanically ventilated patients.

Another anti-inflammatory drug, ABX464, is currently being studied by Abivax as an early treatment for elderly or high-risk patients with confirmed COVID-19. Although this class of drug has failed in severe patient settings so far, there is still some hope that anti-inflammatories could show benefit as an early treatment in patients with moderate disease.

“People around the world are waiting for further effective treatment options for COVID-19 and we are disappointed that COVACTA did not demonstrate a benefit for patients in either clinical status or mortality at week four. We will continue to generate evidence to provide a more complete understanding of Actemra in COVID-19 associated pneumonia,” said Levi Garraway, chief medical officer and head of global product development at Roche.

While Actemra has missed the mark as a monotherapy in the severe COVID-19 setting, Roche is still hoping it can show a benefit alongside other treatments, including Gilead’s antiviral remdesivir. The Swiss pharma company is also evaluating Kevzara in moderate-to-severe COVID-19 patients, with the hopes that the drug could show a benefit in a patient population that is less ill.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

29th July 2020

From: Research



COVID-19 Updates and Daily News

Featured jobs


Add my company
Oxford University Press

Oxford University Press publishes over 100 prestigious, highly cited, and authoritative medical journals, many in collaboration with some of the...

Latest intelligence

Cervical Cancer Prevention Month
In this first 2022 blog, the Innovative Trials' Equality & Diversity committee will be looking at raising awareness around Cervical Cancer...
6 critical success factors for flawless execution of a rapid first commercial launch
Annemarie Armstrong, Executive Vice President, US Head of Client Services, shares the key considerations for launching a first commercial product, particularly on a rapid timeline....
Hybrid working: Insights and tips for success
Porterhouse Medical has thrived by embracing a hybrid approach to work. Our article looks at hybrid working and provides some tips for success...