Japanese arthritis drug effective against coronavirus, UK says

Japanese arthritis drug effective against coronavirus, UK says

Tocilizumab lowers risk of death by 24% and shortens ICU stays, study finds

LONDON — Arthritis medication developed by Japan’s Chugai Pharmaceutical provides effective treatment against the coronavirus, according to the British government, lowering mortality risk and shortening hospital stays.

A U.K. government-backed trial found Chugai’s tocilizumab, marketed as Actemra, to lower patients’ risk of death from COVID-19 by 24%, with their stays in intensive care units shortened by seven to 10 days.

British Health Secretary Matt Hancock called the trial results a “landmark development in finding a way out of this pandemic” and expressed confidence that the treatments would “play a significant role in defeating this virus.”

New coronavirus cases in the U.K. have topped 50,000 in recent days, straining hospital resources. The government has authorized use of Actemra in ICUs nationwide and will coordinate with Chugai parent Roche, which produces and markets the drug in Europe.