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Two Existing Drugs Could Improve Survival in Patients With Severe COVID-19
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Two Existing Drugs Could Improve Survival in Patients With Severe COVID-19

Two Existing Drugs Could Improve Survival in Patients With Severe COVID-19
News

Two Existing Drugs Could Improve Survival in Patients With Severe COVID-19

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This article is based on research findings that are yet to be peer-reviewed. Results are therefore regarded as preliminary and should be interpreted as such. Find out about the role of the peer review process in research here. For further information, please contact the cited source.

Treating critically ill COVID-19 patients with drugs typically used for arthritis may significantly improve survival, a landmark study has found.

The findings, which have not yet been peer-reviewed, come from the REMAP-CAP trial, which evaluates the effect of treatments on a combination of survival and length of time patients need support in an intensive care unit (ICU).

Initial findings reported in November showed that tocilizumab, a drug used to treat arthritis, was likely to improve outcomes among critically ill COVID-19 patients. But the impact on patient survival and length of time on organ support in ICU was not clear at that time.

"This is a significant finding which could have immediate implications for the sickest patients with COVID-19,"  – Professor Anthony Gordon


Now, the latest analysis shows that tocilizumab and a second drug called sarilumab – both types of immune modulators called IL-6 receptor antagonists – have a significant impact on patient survival, reducing mortality by 8.5%.*

Furthermore, the treatment also improved recovery so that on average patients were able to be discharged from the intensive care unit (ICU) about a week earlier.

The latest analysis is published in a pre-print available on medRxiv, with the findings submitted to a peer-reviewed journal.

“This is a significant finding which could have immediate implications for the sickest patients with COVID-19,” said Professor Anthony Gordon, Chair in Anaesthesia and Critical Care at Imperial College London and a Consultant in Intensive Care Medicine at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.

“We found that among critically ill adult patients – those receiving breathing support in intensive care – treatment with these drugs can improve their chances of survival and recovery,” explained Professor Gordon. “At a time when hospitalisations and deaths from COVID-19 are soaring in the UK, it’s crucial we continue to identify effective treatments which can help to turn the tide against this disease.”

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