An international study found that Roche’s Actemra and Sanofi’s Kevzara—both arthritis medications—markedly improved survival rates in critically ill Covid19 patients and cut down time they needed intensive care.
Actemra (tocilizumab) and Kevzara (sarilumab), both immunosuppressive drugs, reduced death rates by 8.5 percentage points in hospitalized as well as severely ill Covid patients.
This data, gleaned from an international study called the REMAP-CAP trial, points to evidence that some drugs can be repurposed to help treat those ill with the coronavirus disease.
The study, which involved 800 patients, also revealed that those treated with either drug recovered faster and was discharged more quickly (in 7 to 10 days) than those that did not receive the drug.
“This could have immediate implications for the sickest patients with Covid19,” said the study’s co-lead Anthony Gordon, a professor of anesthesia and critical care at the Imperial College of London. “We’re seeing actual benefit in terms of survival and quicker recovery.”
However, results have been mixed for both drugs. French pharma giant Sanofi said last September that Kevzara had not been able to meet the main goals of a U.S. study which tried it on critically ill Covid19 patients. Swiss healthcare company Roche, meanwhile, found that Actemra did help the sickest patients, but were unsure if it kept people alive or if it shortened the time patients needed intensive care.
This information is crucial now that variants of the virus have been seen in South Africa and the United Kingdom that are more contagious and have caused surges in infection.
Currently, drug companies have been reviewing their portfolios for possible therapies. So far, only generic steroid dexamethasone and Gilead Institute’s remdesivir have been okayed as treatment for the disease.