This arthritis drug shows promise against severe COVID-19

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In a new study from Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein, researchers found a repurposed arthritis drug can benefit patients hospitalized with COVID-19.

Tofacitinib belongs to a class of drugs called Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors. It is approved in the United States to treat conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and ulcerative colitis.

In the study, the team tested tofacitinib, taken orally and sold under the brand name Xeljanz among others, in 289 patients hospitalized with severe COVID in Brazil.

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

After 28 days, the team found 18.1% of the group receiving the tofacitinib progressed to respiratory failure or death, compared to 29% in the placebo group. This represented a statistically significant relative risk reduction of 63%.

Respiratory failure means a patient requiring noninvasive ventilation through an oxygen mask, or being intubated and placed on a mechanical ventilator.

The team also found 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% in the tofacitinib group and in 12% in the placebo group.

The researchers are encouraged by the initial findings of tofacitinib in patients hospitalized with COVID-19.

These results provide new information that the use of tofacitinib when added to standard of care, which includes glucocorticoids, may further reduce the risk of death or respiratory failure in people with server COVID-19

If you care about covid, please read studies about these two things are key predictors for severe COVID-19 and findings of this stuff in blood linked to more severe COVID-19.

For more information about COVID and your health, please see recent studies about these health conditions may increase risks for severe COVID-19 and results showing an early predictor of severe breathing failure in COVID-19.

The study is published in the New England Journal of Medicine. One author of the study is Otavio Berwanger.

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