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April 27, 2020

Roche’s Actemra sales jump amid testing in severe Covid-19 patients

By Miranda Mclaren

First quarter sales of Roche’s Actemra, a rheumatoid arthritis drug, jumped by 30% compared to the previous year. The rise in Actemra sales may be based on the results of several Chinese cohort studies examining the immunological response to SARS-CoV-2 in patients diagnosed with Covid-19. In March, China’s National Health Commission added Actemra to its Covid-19 treatment guidelines for the treatment of lung inflammation in severe patients, with reports of effective treatment also coming from Italy.

The use of Actemra was first considered as a treatment after the immunological profile of critically ill Covid-19 patients demonstrated hyperactivation of the humoral immune pathway, which includes IL-6, as a contributor to the development of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Covid-19 disease progression can lead to cytokine release syndrome (CRS), therefore, the dysregulation of the host immune response presents an important therapeutic target.

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