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Current Affairs

Arthritis drug back in Covid-19 treatment

Date: 14 January 2021 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

Two arthritis drugs, tocilizumab, and sarilumab, have re-emerged as possible treatment options for Covid-19.

 

Background

The use of arthritis drugs against coronavirus has been the subject of debate through the pandemic. It has gained and lost significance over a time.

 

Details

  • The latest study suggests that tocilizumab and sarilumab could help save lives among Covid-19 patients admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU).

  • The study assessed 803 Covid-19 patients in ICU. Of them, 353 were administered tocilizumab within 24 hours of ICU admission, another 48 were given sarilumab within the same time-frame, and the remaining 402 were administered standard care minus these two drugs (the control arm).

  • While 64.2% ICU patients survived in the control arm, 72% survived when administered tocilizumab and 77.8% survived when given sarilumab.

  • The researchers found that the two arthritis drugs also helped reduce the need for organ support.

  • Those given tocilizumab required organ support after 10 days on an average, those on sarilumab required after 11 days, and those in the control arm required organ support system in a single day.

 

Working of the drugs

  • In India, the three immunosuppressant drugs (tocilizumab, sarilumab, and itolizumab) are used to treat rheumatoid arthritis.

  • These drugs work against a protein called IL-6, which plays a key role in the body mounting a cytokine response (when the immune system attacks the body’s own cells) after the virus infects the body.

  • By suppressing IL-6, these repurposed drugs are supposed to stop the self-damaging cytokine response in severe Covid-19 infections.