Roche’s treatment of rheumatoid arthritis may reduce the likelihood that patients with COVID-19-related pneumonia will need a ventilator, the Swiss pharmaceutical company said Friday.
People who received tocilizumab marketed as Actemra / RoActemra were 44% less likely to progress to the point where they would have to rely on life support equipment, according to a Phase 3 EMPACTA study.
The test was conducted in the United States, South Africa, Kenya, Brazil, Mexico and Peru.
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Dr. Levi Garaway, Roche’s chief medical officer, said the company plans to share the data with health authorities around the world, including the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The results of the study are considered “an important result in this serious disease,” he said.
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Officials also note that the trial is the first to be used primarily by patients who are often “underrepresented in clinical trials and have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Approximately 85% of the 389 patients are from minority racial and ethnic groups.
The news comes just two months after a separate late-stage study of her Actemra / RoActemra showed that treatment had failed to help patients hospitalized with severe COVID-19 pneumonia.
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Phase 3 of the Covacta study did not “reach its main endpoint of improved clinical status,” the company said in July. The experiment also failed to achieve key secondary endpoints for reduced patient mortality.
Since the pandemic earlier this year, the company has been working on tests to detect COVID-19. In March, the company’s commercially available coronavirus test received emergency approval from the FDA.
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