China is hoping to put a decade-old drug to use as it grapples with an outbreak of the deadly novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19.
According to Reuters, China has approved the use of the anti-inflammation drug Actemra, manufactured by Swiss drug maker Roche, to deal with complications among those infected with the novel coronavirus.
The drug inhibits high Interleukin 6 (IL-6), a multi-functional cytokine (protein) produced by cells which can be elevated with inflammation, infection, autoimmune disorders, etc.
It has been used to treat cytokine storms in cancer patients during cell therapies from Novartis and Gilead Sciences.
Researchers in China are testing Actemra in a clinical trial, including 188 coronavirus patients. It concludes on May 10.
Reportedly, Roche said a third party has initiated the trial independently to explore the drug’s efficacy and safety in coronavirus patients with cytokine storms.
However, Roche is yet to get a nod from China’s National Medical Product Administration to sell Actemra for coronavirus cases.
Actemra, also known as tocilizumab, was first approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration for rheumatoid arthritis in 2010.