An anti-inflammation drug, Actemra (tocilizumab), manufactured by the Swiss pharmaceutical company, Roche, has been approved by the Chinese government for the treatment of patients who are developing severe complications from coronavirus.
Actemra is indicated for the treatment of adult patients with moderately to severely active rheumatoid arthritis who have had an inadequate response to one or more Disease-Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs.
Roche was quoted as saying that a third party has initiated the trial independently to explore the efficacy and safety of the drug in coronavirus patients with cytokine release syndrome (CRS).
According to the online portal, Pharmaceutical Technology, the latest development comes as China’s National Health Commission announced that it was searching for new ways to combat the deadly virus, which has so far killed 3,300 persons, alongside 96,414 infections in 84 countries and territories.
In its latest treatment guidelines published online, the Chinese commission said the biologic drug Actemra can now be used to treat coronavirus patients who have severe lung damage and high IL-6 levels.
The Interleukin-6 (IL-6) is a protein produced by various cells. It helps regulate immune responses, which makes the IL-6 test potentially useful as a marker of immune system activation. IL-6 can be elevated with inflammation, infection, autoimmune disorders, cardiovascular diseases, and some cancers.
In 2010, Actemra secured approval from the US Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.
The drug is capable of inhibiting high Interleukin 6 (IL-6) protein levels that drive some inflammatory diseases, FDA had noted.
Researchers in China have also put the 10-year-old medication to a clinical trial, and are expected to enrol a total of 188 patients with Covid-19 on it.