Rheumatoid Arthritis Drug, Tocilizumab, May Become Standard COVID-19 Treatment Option

A new study has found that Tocilizumab has the potency to reduce the risk of death for patients with COVID-19. The study also found that when the drug was given to patients, it reduces their stay in the hospital.

The trial for the drug commenced in early last year and the data collated have been impressive so far. However, the study is yet to be published and has not undergone peer reviews.

The study incorporated 2,022 patients who were given tocilizumab as a treatment option. On the other hand, some 2,094 patients were assigned standard drugs to be used as a control in the trial. While the group administered with tocilizumab witnessed 596 deaths, the standard care group had 694 deaths. This translated to a 4% difference. This means that one in every 25 patients administered with tocilizumab showed recovered from the disease.

Martin Landray, one of the leading researchers in the study, said the benefits of tocilizumab were consistent in every group of patients that were observed.

Peter Horby, the chief investigator in the study, said the benefits of the drug were outstanding among patients.

It was during the earlier study last year that dexamethasone, a popular steroid, was identified as reducing death rates among COVID-19 patients. Following this result obtained, the medical community has adopted the drug as a standard treatment option for patients suffering from a severe case of the disease.

For patients who were not in ICU when the study commenced, the administration of the drug prevented the risk of their illness progressing to a severe phase.

Oxford University, during a press briefing, said that data from the study showed that when tocilizumab was administered on severe COVID-19 patients along with dexamethasone, the mortality rate reduced by a third. For patients under ventilators, the success rate increased to one half, Yahoo reports.

Landry of the University of Oxford confirmed that when tocilizumab was used in combination with dexamethasone, the outcome was impressive.

Landray said the tocilizumab reduced the mortality rate among patients and shortened the number of time patients spent in the hospital. He declared the study as a welcome development for patients, the UK health service, and international partners.

The National Institutes of Health had earlier released treatment modalities, saying that for patients under intensive care, two treatment options could be pursued according to relevant data so far gathered. They could be treated with tocilizumab or sarilumab. However, for those not under intensive care, these drugs were not to be administered except in the case of a study.

Tocilizumab has become one of the fifth best-selling drugs by drugmaker Roche, amassing the company over $3 billion in revenue. About $600 million of those revenues was obtained from COVID-19 treatment alone.

Source: cnn.com