Drug shows promise in 1st largely minority COVID-19 study

BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
09/22/2020 12:30 PM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
A health care worker administers a COVID-19 test on July 6 at a site sponsored by Community Heath of South Florida at the Martin Luther King Jr. Clinica Campesina Health Center in Homestead, Floria. A drug company said on Sept. 18 that a medicine it sells to tamp down inflammation has helped prevent the need for breathing machines in hospitalized COVID-19 patients in the first large study that primarily enrolled minorities. LYNEE SLADKY/ASSOCIATED PRESS
BASEL, Switzerland (AP) – A drug company said Sept. 18 that a medicine it sells to tamp down inflammation has helped prevent the need for breathing machines in hospitalized COVID-19 patients in the first large study that primarily enrolled Hispanics and Blacks.

Switzerland-based Roche reported the results for tocilizumab, sold now as Actemra and RoActemra for treating rheumatoid arthritis and some other diseases. The company said it would quickly publish the results, which have not yet been reviewed by independent scientists, and would speak with regulators about next steps. 

The drug, given through an IV, tamps down a protein called interleukin-6 that’s often found in excess in COVID-19 patients. It failed in a previous study that tested it in people more severely ill from the coronavirus. The new study was done in the United States, South Africa, Kenya, Brazil, Mexico and Peru. About 85% of the 389 participants were Hispanic, Black, Native American or other ethnic or racial minorities. These groups have been disproportionately hurt by the pandemic.

About 12% given the drug needed a breathing machine or died within 28 days versus about 19% of patients given a placebo. 

Looked at separately, there were fewer deaths among those on the drug – 8.6% versus 10.4% on placebo – but the difference was too small to say it might not have been due to chance.

It’s unclear how the results will be viewed; another drug that works in a similar way failed in an experiment rigorously testing it in COVID-19 patients but some less scientific, observational studies have suggested benefit. 

That was the third time during the week of Sept. 14-18 that companies have announced positive results from studies testing COVID treatments via press releases. Companies often are required to disclose results that could affect their financial situation.

On Sept. 14, Eli Lilly reported benefits from a study testing its anti-inflammatory drug baricitinib when combined with the antiviral drug remdesivir. On Sept. 16, it said interim results from very early testing suggested that its experimental antibody drug showed promise for helping clear the virus and possibly reducing the need for hospitalization in mild to moderately ill patients.

Health

BY CHAD HUNTER
Reporter
10/29/2020 08:51 AM
Brandi Payton says the recognition is “a ref...

BY THOR CHRISTENEN
American Heart Association News
10/28/2020 02:15 PM
Cardiac arrest results in death ...

BY CHAD HUNTER
Reporter
10/28/2020 08:59 AM
The Wilma P. Mankiller He...

BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
10/23/2020 03:08 PM
Vaccines can’t be given to y...

BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
10/23/2020 03:05 PM
The company agreed to pay ...

BY LINDSEY BARK
Reporter
10/23/2020 03:01 PM
Human papillomavirus is a virus known to cau...