Chesterfield Royal Hospital trials using arthritis drug which could help save lives of 1 in 25 Covid-19 patients
Chesterfield Royal Hospital has been part of a national trial into the use of a drug which could help save the lives of one in 25 Covid-19 patients.
Under the Recovery trial, researchers found that tocilizumab – which is usually used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis – reduced the absolute risk of mortality by four percentage points if administered alongside a steroid known as dexamethasone.
Wendy Coleman, 62, was part of the trial when she was admitted to Chesterfield Royal Hospital with severe Covid-19 last year.
She said: “I definitely stopped deteriorating after I’d taken it (tocilizumab) – so I do think it saved my life.”
Treatment with tocilizumab is thought to cost around £500.
On Monday, updated guidance will be sent to NHS trusts and clinicians, recommending that they use the drug for patients admitted to hospital.
More than 4,000 patients were involved in the Recovery trial, with 2,022 patients randomly allocated to receive the medicine, while the rest received standard treatment.
A total of 82 per cent of patients were taking a steroid, such as dexamethasone, as part of the standard care.
The researchers found that 596 (29 per cent) of the patients in the tocilizumab group died within 28 days, compared with 694 (33 per cent) patients in the usual care group.
Martin Landray, professor of medicine and epidemiology at the Nuffield Department of Population Health at the University of Oxford, said: “The results from the Recovery trial clearly show the benefits of tocilizumab and dexamethasone in tackling the worst consequences of Covid-19 – improving survival, shortening hospital stay, and reducing the need for mechanical ventilators.
“Used in combination, the impact is substantial.
“This is good news for patients and good news for the health services that care for them in the UK and around the world,” added Mr Landray, who was the joint chief investigator in the trial.
Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, deputy chief medical officer, said: “These results present another important advance in our fight against Covid-19 and are good news for patients and clinicians around the world – it’s a combination of both effective therapeutics and vaccines that will mean an end to this pandemic.”