Roche announced that the European Commission has extended the marketing authorisation for Actemra®/RoActemra® (tocilizumab) to include the treatment of COVID-19 in adults who are receiving systemic corticosteroids and require supplemental oxygen or mechanical ventilation.1 This decision comes just hours after the recommendation by the European Medicines Agency’s (EMA) Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP), reflecting the urgent need for Actemra/RoActemra as a potential treatment option during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
“Actemra/RoActemra is the second Roche medicine to have received rapid European Commission approval in COVID-19 in recent weeks,” said Levi Garraway, M.D., Ph.D., Roche’s Chief Medical Officer and Head of Global Product Development. “The totality of evidence shows that Actemra/RoActemra can benefit those suffering with severe COVID-19. Together with vaccines, other treatments and testing, Actemra/RoActemra forms an important piece of the care puzzle as we confront new challenges of the pandemic in Europe and around the world.”
The decision from the European Commission follows an accelerated assessment by the EMA’s CHMP, which reviewed results from four studies of Actemra/RoActemra in over 5,500 patients with severe or critical COVID-19. These include the Roche-led phase III COVACTA, EMPACTA and REMDACTA trials, and the University of Oxford’s Randomised Evaluation of COVID-19 Therapy (RECOVERY) study, which was supported by Roche.
Outside of the European Union, Actemra/RoActemra has been provisionally approved in Australia, authorised for emergency use in the United States and Ghana, and recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) for the treatment of COVID-19.2,3,4,5 Roche is working closely with regulatory bodies and other partners around the world on the next steps to bring this medicine to as many people as possible.
Following the recent emergence of the new SARS-CoV-2 variant of concern, Omicron (B.1.1.529), WHO has reported that interleukin 6 receptor blockers, such as Actemra/RoActemra, are expected to still be effective for managing patients with severe COVID-19.6
In these exceptional times, we stand together with society, governments, healthcare providers and all those working towards the common goal of overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Founded in 1896, Roche continues to search for better ways to prevent, diagnose and treat diseases and make a sustainable contribution to society. The company also aims to improve patient access to medical innovations by working with all relevant stakeholders. More than thirty medicines developed by Roche are included in the World Health Organization Model Lists of Essential Medicines, among them life-saving antibiotics, antimalarials and cancer medicines. Moreover, for the thirteenth consecutive year, Roche has been recognised as one of the most sustainable companies in the pharmaceutical industry by the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI).
The Roche Group, headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, is active in over 100 countries and in 2020 employed more than 100,000 people worldwide. In 2020, Roche invested CHF 12.2 billion in R&D and posted sales of CHF 58.3 billion. Genentech, in the United States, is a wholly owned member of the Roche Group. Roche is the majority shareholder in Chugai Pharmaceutical, Japan.