While the COVID-19 outbreak prompted the development of novel antibody medicines and vaccinations, scientists have discovered that current medications can occasionally aid patients in their fight against the virus. A clinically meaningful trial on rheumatoid arthritis medicines in hospitalised COVID-19 patients was led by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). While the treatments did not significantly cut the recovery period, they actually improved clinical status and minimised mortality, according to the study.
The medications were put to the test to determine if they could lessen the impact of an overactive immune system. Researchers looked at Remicade by Johnson & Johnson, Orencia by Bristol-Myers Squibb, and cenicriviroc, an experimental drug by AbbVie, for the study. The team terminated the cenicriviroc study in September, citing a lack of efficacy in the results of a data monitoring board. The 518 patients who took Remicade died at a rate of 10%, compared to 14.5% in the placebo group. According to the NIH, this corresponded to a 40.5% reduction in the chance of mortality. Furthermore, those who received Remicade had a 43.8% higher chance of clinical benefit than those who received placebo.
Researchers discovered an 11% fatality rate in the Orencia group, compared to 15% in the placebo group. This resulted in a 37.4% decrease in the chance of death. Furthermore, at 28 days after the commencement of the study, the Orencia group had a 34.2% higher chance of clinical improvement. Bristol-Myers Squibb confirmed that it plans to talk to the FDA about the results and possible future measures.
It’s not the first time that existing rheumatoid arthritis medications have helped COVID-19 patients in the hospital. Roche’s Actemra received FDA approval in June to be used in conjunction with corticosteroids in hospitalised patients requiring oxygen support. After eighteen months of use in combination with Gilead’s Veklury, Eli Lilly and Incyte’s Olumiant was approved as a solo treatment a few weeks ago. China included Actemra in its COVID-19 treatment guidelines in March 2020.
Arthritis medications are thought to assist COVID patients resist a severe immunological response described as a “cytokine storm” because they soothe an overactive immune system. From October 2020 to December 2021, 1,971 people were enrolled in the NIH experiment at medical facilities across the United States and Latin America. The data will be published in its entirety in a scholarly journal in the fall of 2022, as per the team.