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WHO Recommends Use of Arthritis Drug for COVID-19’s Treatment

The World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended the use of arthritis drugs Actemra developed by Roche and Kevzara developed by Sanofi with corticosteroids, a class of drug that lowers inflammation in the body, for COVID-19 patients.

The development comes after a large-scale study involving 10,930 showed that these arthritis drugs when used with corticosteroids significantly reduced the risk of death in Coronavirus patients.


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The study was conducted by King’s College London, University of Bristol, University College London, and Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust. Of the 10,930 participants, 6,499 received one of the drugs with corticosteroids while the remaining got standard care or a placebo.

In a statement, WHO’s Health Emergency Program (HEP) said that treating severe and critical COVID-19 patients with these so-called interleukin-6 antagonists that block inflammation “reduces the risk of death and the need for mechanical ventilation”.

It added the risk of death within 28 days for Coronavirus patients treated with one of the arthritis drugs along with corticosteroids is 21% as compared to the 25% risk among those treated without it.


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Similarly, the risk of needing mechanical ventilation is 26% for Coronavirus patients treated with one of the arthritis drugs along with corticosteroids as compared to the 33% risk among those treated without it.

WHO has called on the regional, national, and local governments to ensure the supply of Actemra and Kevzara in low-income countries that are grappling with rising Coronavirus cases and different strains of the virus, a situation exacerbated by unequal distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.

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