The World Health Organization on Tuesday recommended using arthritis drugs Actemra by Roche and Kevzara by Sanofi with corticosteroids for Covid-19 patients after data from some 11,000 patients showed they reduced the risk of death.
A WHO group evaluating therapies concluded that treating severe and critical Covid patients with these so-called interleukin-6 antagonists that block inflammation “reduces the risk of death and the need for ventilation. mechanical “.
According to the WHO analysis, the risk of death within 28 days for patients receiving any of the arthritis medicines with corticosteroids such as dexamethasone is 21%, compared with an assumed risk of 25% in those who received standard care. For 100 of these patients, four more will survive, according to the WHO.
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In addition, the risk of switching to mechanical ventilation or death was 26% for those who received the drugs and corticosteroids, compared to 33% for those who received standard care. The WHO has said that for 100 of those patients, another seven will survive without mechanical ventilation.
“We have updated our clinical care treatment guidelines to reflect this latest development,” said Janet Diaz, WHO health emergencies manager.
The analysis included 10,930 patients, of which 6,449 received one of the drugs and 4,481 received standard care or placebo. This was done with King’s College London, University of Bristol, University College London and the Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The Food and Drug Administration issued emergency use approval for Actemra for Covid-19 last week. This is after its off-label use in the pandemic spiked sales by about a third to some $ 3 billion in 2020.
Sales of Kevzara rose 30% last year, Sanofi reported.
Still, testing Actemra and Kevzara for Covid-19 patients involved trial and error, as several failures emerged when companies tried the drugs on different groups of patients.
WHO has also called for more to be done to improve access to these drugs in lower income countries which now face an increase in Covid-19 cases and variants of the virus, associated with vaccine supplies. inadequate.
“These are the people these drugs need to reach,” Diaz said.