Thousands more NHS patients who are hospitalised due to COVID-19 will be able to receive tocilizumab, the Government has announced.
Clinical trials show that the drug, originally used to treat arthritis reduces the risk of death by 14% and reduced the time spent in hospital by 5 days for patients on oxygen on top of benefits from dexamethasone. According to the Government, the roll-out of this treatment could also contribute significantly towards reducing pressures on hospitals over the coming weeks and months.
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‘These results present another important advance in our fight against COVID-19 and are good news for patients and clinicians around the world – it’s a combination of both effective therapeutics and vaccines that will mean an end to this pandemic,’ said Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam.
‘The data published today mean many more patients in hospital with COVID-19 will have access to a proven treatment, speeding up their recovery and reducing the risk of mortality significantly.’
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Scientists discovered the drug was effective during the RECOVERY clinical trial, funded by the UK government through the National Institute for Health Research and UK Research and Innovation. Last month, the international clinical trial REMAP-CAP, also funded by the government, found that tocilizumab and sarilumab reduced the risk of death for patients when administered within 24 hours of entering intensive care.
‘Throughout the pandemic where the NHS leads, the world has followed – from vaccinating the first patients outside of clinical trials to helping get dexamethasone into frontline care, and now to driving forward research on another breakthrough treatment,’ said Professor Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director.
‘I am immensely proud that the NHS is delivering another breakthrough treatment that will significantly increase the chances of survival for COVID patients being treated in England’s hospitals.’