Covid-19: UK trial finds 2 more drugs reduce deaths, ICU stay
Two widely available drugs typically used to treat rheumatoid arthritis – tocilizumab and sarilumab – reduce the risk of death from Covid-19 by 24% and reduce stay in the intensive care unit by up to 10 days, results from a UK government-backed trial published on Thursday show.
Most of the data came from the REMAP-CAP trial when the drugs were administered in addition to a corticosteroid, such as dexamethasone, which was discovered in June 2020 through the RECOVERY clinical trial, which is already provided as standard of care to patients in the National Health Service (NHS).
The Department of Health said patients receiving these drugs left intensive care between seven and 10 days earlier on average. Updated guidance on the use of the drugs will be issued on Friday, encouraging hospitals to use tocilizumab while treating Covid-19 patients immediately.
Health secretary Matt Hancock said, “Today’s results are yet another landmark development in finding a way out of this pandemic and, when added to the armoury of vaccines and treatments already being rolled out, will play a significant role in defeating this virus.
“We have worked quickly to ensure this treatment is available to NHS patients without delay, meaning hundreds of lives will be saved. I am hugely proud of the significant role our NHS and its patients have played in this international trial.”
Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director, said, “The fact there is now another drug that can help to reduce mortality for patients with Covid-19 is hugely welcome news and another positive development in the continued fight against the virus.”
In June last year, the UK government approved dexamethasone as the world’s first treatment proven to reduce mortality for Covid-19. The REMAP-CAP trial found that the rate of death for those in intensive care units on corticosteroids, such as dexamethasone, and respiratory support alone was 35%, which was reduced to 28% when tocilizumab was also administered.
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