London – The British government said Thursday that two arthritis drugs, including one developed in Japan, are effective in treating patients with COVID-19.
In clinical trials funded by the government, the risk of death dropped by 24% for COVID-19 patients treated with the two drugs — tocilizumab and sarilumab — within 24 hours of being taken to intensive care units, it said, adding that the drugs can also shorten the period of hospitalization of patients by seven to 10 days.
The government said that the drugs will be administered to COVID-19 patients in ICUs across Britain from Friday.
Tocilizumab was developed jointly by Osaka University and Japanese firm Chugai Pharmaceutical Co.
In Britain, the anti-inflammatory drug dexamethasone has already been used to treat patients with COVID-19.
British Health Secretary Matt Hancock has described the clinical trial results as another landmark development in finding a way out of the pandemic.
British Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van-Tam also hailed the breakthrough, saying that the drugs may be able to help relieve pressure on intensive care services and save lives.
In September last year, Swiss drug giant Roche, which is in partnership with Chugai Pharmaceutical, said a clinical trial showed that tocilizumab, sold as Actemra or RoActemra, can reduce the need for mechanical ventilation in COVID-19 patients.
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