Study Finds Arthritis Drugs Tokilizumab, Sarilumab Help Reduce COVID-19 Deaths – Health News, Firstpost


The analysis included data from 10,930 patients, of whom 6,449 were randomized to receive interleukin-6 inhibitors and 4,481 to standard care or placebo.

The arthritic drugs tocilizumab and sarilumab reduce the risk of death and the need for respiratory equipment in hospital COVID-19 according to an analysis of nearly 11,000 patients released on Tuesday.

The study appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association and prompted the World Health Organization (WHO) to recommend the use of drugs known as IL-6 inhibitors, in addition to corticosteroids, to patients with severe or critical Covid.

Manu Shankar-Hari, a professor at King’s College London and the lead author of the paper, told AFP that the study was “definitive evidence” in favor of the drug after previous studies yielded conflicting results.

In hospitalized Covid patients, administration of a single drug in addition to corticosteroids reduced the risk of death by 17 percent compared with corticosteroids alone.

In patients who were not in the ventilator, the risk of mechanical ventilation or death was reduced by 21 percent compared with the use of corticosteroids alone.

Severely ill Covid patients experience an overreaction of the immune system known as a “cytokine storm,” which can cause serious organ damage and death.

Tosilizumab and sarilumab are used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease, by blocking interleukin (IL) -6, a type of protein called a cytokine that signals the body to make an inflammatory response.

But previous studies on whether IL-6 inhibitors may be useful against severe Covid have reported various advantages, not effects and disadvantages.

This prompted the WHO to coordinate a new study combining data from 27 randomized studies conducted in 28 countries.

The analysis included data from 10,930 patients, of whom 6,449 were randomized to receive interleukin-6 inhibitors and 4,481 to standard care or placebo.

Overall, the risk of death within 28 days was 22%, compared with an assumed 25% risk in those receiving standard care alone.

The results were better when patients also received corticosteroids, and the risk of dying was 21 percent compared with 25 percent of those receiving standard care.

This means that for every 100 such patients, four others live.

The study also looked at the effect of these medicines on the patient’s progression to breathing or death.

The risk of patients receiving corticosteroids was found to be 26% in patients receiving IL-6 inhibitors, compared with an expected 33% in patients receiving standard care.

In other words, for every 100 such patients, seven more survive and avoid mechanical ventilation.

Tocilizumab and sarilumab given by infusion or injection are currently recommended for use with corticosteroids in severe Covid patients. The United States also recommends tocilizumab with corticosteroids.

Shankar-Hari said he hoped global organizations such as the WHO could now act as a lobby to improve access to lower- and middle-income drugs if current costs could be unreasonable for widespread use.

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