Imperial College London in the UK has reported that the REMAP-CAP trial of two arthritis drugs, tocilizumab and sarilumab may reduce mortality in sickest Covid-19 patients who need support in an intensive care unit (ICU).

Tocilizumab and sarilumab are immunosuppressive drugs called IL-6 receptor antagonists used for treating rheumatoid arthritis.

The Imperial College London and the Intensive Care National Audit & Research Centre (ICNARC) in the UK and University Medical Center Utrecht in Europe are leading REMAP-CAP study.

The ongoing global, multifactorial, adaptive platform trial analysed the effect of these treatments on survival and length of time on organ support in ICU in adult Covid-19 patients.

In the study, the participants randomly received either tocilizumab 8mg / kg or sarilumab 400mg or standard care (control).

When the full analysis took place, tocilizumab cohort had 353 patients, sarilumab arm had 48 and 402 in the control group.

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Latest data showed that the arthritis drugs met the pre-defined triggers for efficacy.

They improved recovery and survival in critically ill Covid-19 patients with organ support in ICU.

Furthermore, patients receiving the treatments were discharged from the ICU around a week earlier.

Hospital mortality was 28%, 22.2% and 35.8% in cohorts receiving tocilizumab, sarilumab and standard care, respectively.

Imperial College London Anaesthesia and Critical Care chair and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust Intensive Care Medicine consultant professor Anthony Gordon said: “We found that among critically ill adult patients – those receiving breathing support in intensive care – treatment with these drugs can improve their chances of survival and recovery.

“At a time when hospitalisations and deaths from Covid-19 are soaring in the UK, it’s crucial we continue to identify effective treatments which can help to turn the tide against this disease.”