They improved recovery and survival in critically ill Covid-19 patients with organ support in ICU.
The results also showed that on average, patients treated with Actemra or Kevzara recovered more swiftly and were able to be discharged from intensive care units around seven to 10 days earlier than those who did not get these drugs.
The number of people in hospital with COVID-19 is expected to increase again over the next few weeks. Pic Shutterstock
"Treat 12 patients and you save one life", said Prof Anthony Gordon, of Imperial College London, the UK's chief investigator on the trial behind the findings.
Critically ill Covid-19 patients admitted to intensive care units across the United Kingdom will be able to receive new drugs that can "significantly" reduce the risk of death as well as time spent in hospital by up to 10 days.More news: Bills lead Colts 7-3 after first quarter
The announcement by the UK Government comes after results from the government-funded REMAP-CAP clinical trial which showed particular treatment options (tocilizumab and sarilumab) reduced the relative risk of death among Covid-19 patients by 24% when administered to patients within 24 hours of entering intensive care. Researchers said that tocilizumab, sold under the brand name Actemra, belongs to class of drugs called interleukin-6 or IL-6 that may tame the unsafe cytokine storms that occur then the immune system overreacts to a viral attack. The department is working closely with Roche, who manufacture tocilizumab, to ensure treatments continue to be available to United Kingdom patients.
In the trial, 353 patients received tocilizumab, 48 had sarilumab and 402 were in a control group.More news: Looking for Quibi content? Go to Roku
Tocilizumab, which is administered intravenously in a one- or two-dose regime, is already in stock in hospitals across the United Kingdom, the Department of Heath and Social Care said, adding that it has worked closely with the manufacturer, Roche, to ensure continued availability. 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. "In mechanically ventilated patients, we saw an absolute reduction in the risk of death of approximately 12% with dexamethasone [in the Recovery Study], and here you see an absolute reduction of approximately 8% -thaa percent- The data show that tocilizumab, and likely sarilumab, accelerate and improve ICU recovery, which is critical for decongesting and saving lives in ICUs and hospitals". Early results of the worldwide study suggested tocilizumab could improve treatment outcomes for patients with coronavirus infections that are life-threatening.
There are no available intensive beds in midlands hospitals today.More news: Most Hospitalised Covid Patients Have At Least One Symptom After 6 Months
The authors said this raises concerns about the possibility of Covid-19 re-infection, although they said larger samples would be needed to clarify how immunity to the virus changes over time.