COVID-19: A new setback in a clinical trial of tocilizumab

Zurich | Swiss drug group Roche announced, Thursday, that a trial of its drug tocilizumab, which was being evaluated in combination with the anti-viral remdesivir from Gilead Sciences, has failed in patients with a severe form of COVID-19 pneumonia.

The Swiss lab said in a statement that in phase 3 trials in a study called Remdacta, this group of treatments had not reached their primary goal.

The Swiss group said the main aim of this trial was to assess improvement in hospitalization time, from admission to hospital discharge, after 28 days.

And the Swiss laboratory, which plans to publish details of these experiments in a medical journal, added in this study, the drug combination also failed to achieve its secondary goals.

“We are disappointed that the Remdacta study did not achieve its objectives,” said Levi Garway, Roche’s chief medical officer and director of global product development, in the statement.

He added, “We still believe that the data in its entirety indicate a possible role for Actemra in treating some patients with COVID-19,” however, explaining that the laboratory will discuss the results with the health authorities.

Marketed as Actemra or RoActemra depending on the markets in which it is sold, it is an immunomodulator used to treat rheumatoid arthritis.

Two more large trials have been launched to evaluate this drug as a potential leader in the suite of treatments doctors could use to treat patients with COVID-19.

While the study called Empacta achieved its primary goal, the third study, called Covacta, also failed. Their results were recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine, one of the leading medical publications.

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