Arthritis drug demonstrates promises against severe COVID: study

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A reused arthritis drug has shown positive results in a clinical trial of patients hospitalized with COVID-19, according to a paper published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Tofacitinib, taken orally and sold under the brand name Xeljanz, among others, was tested in a trial of 289 hospitalized patients with severe COVID in 15 locations in Brazil.

Half received the drug — a 10 mg pill twice a day — and such as glucocorticoids that reduce an overactive immune response, while the other half received a standard placebo and care.

After 28 days, 18.1% of the group receiving tofacitinib switched to respiratory failure or death, compared with 29% of the placebo group.

This represented a statistically significant reduction in relative risk of 63%.

Respiratory failure refers to a patient who needs non-invasive ventilation through an oxygen mask or who is intubated and placed in a mechanical ventilator.

Deaths after 28 days occurred in 2.8% of patients in the tofacitinib group and in 5.5% of those in the placebo group.

Serious side effects occurred in 14.1 percent in the tofacitinib group and in 12 percent in the placebo group.

“We are encouraged by the initial findings of our randomized trial of tofacitinib in hospitalized patients with COVID-19 pneumonia,” said Otavio Berwanger of the Albert Einstein Israelite Hospital, who coordinated the trial in collaboration with Pfizer.

“These results provide new information indicating that the use of tofacitinib when added to the standard of care, which includes glucocorticoids, may further reduce the risk of death or in this patient population “.

Tofacitinib belongs to a class of medicines called Janus kinase inhibitors (JAKs).

It is approved in the United States to treat conditions included , and ulcerative colitis.


FDA: blood clot, risk of death with higher doses of tofacitinib


© 2021 AFP

Citation: Arthritis Drug Demonstrates Promise Against Severe COVID: Study (2021, June 17) Retrieved June 17, 2021 at https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-06-arthritis-drug-severe -covid.html

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