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European regulator authorizes treatment with RoActemra for severe cases of COVID-19

The anti-inflammatory is manufactured by the Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) on Monday authorized the use of tocilizumab, an arthritis treatment, for patients hospitalized for a severe form of covid-19, claiming that it reduces the risk of death.

The anti-inflammatory, manufactured by the Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche and marketed under the name of RoActemra in Europe, should be administered with steroids to this category of patients, concluded the European Union regulator, thus ahead of the World Health Organization and States United.

The EMA has recommended expanding the use of tocilizumab to adults with COVID-19 who are receiving “systemic” steroid therapy and require supplemental oxygen or mechanical ventilation.

The European Commission will now have to follow the recommendation of the regulator, based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Previously available for the treatment of arthritis in adults and children, tocilizumab works by suppressing the dangerous “cytokine storm,” an overreaction of the immune system to coronavirus.

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According to the EMA, a study with more than 4,000 seriously ill patients with COVID-19 showed that the drug, administered intravenously or by injection, reduced the risk of death and the length of hospital stay.

However, it should be prescribed together with corticosteroids because “increased mortality cannot be excluded” if used without them, he stressed.

The treatment adds to the EU’s range of tools to fight covid-19. These already include four vaccines, two antibody treatments, including Roche’s Regeneron, and the future emergency use of the pill developed by Merck. (I)

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