Two drugs typically used to treat rheumatoid arthritis were found to separately improve survival and speed up recovery among critically ill Covid-19 patients, according to early research by an international team.
Data from the REMAP-CAP trial showed that giving either tocilizumab or sarilumab infusions to critically ill Covid-19 patients was associated with an 8.5% improvement in surviving the disease and with being able to be discharged from a hospital's intensive care unit about a week to 10 days faster.
"That's a big change in survival," Anthony Gordon, a senior investigator in the REMAP-CAP trial and a professor at Imperial College London in the United Kingdom, said in a briefing. "We also saw the patients recovered more quickly. They were getting better and able to be discharged from the ICU quicker -- and that was on average and every patient is slightly different."
The findings -- which were posted in a pre-print paper on medrxiv.org but have not been published in a peer-reviewed journal -- included data on more than 800 critically ill Covid-19 patients hospitalized across six countries. The researchers emphasized that the findings were only among critically ill patients.
The new findings are a pivot from some separate studies that previously have found tocilizumab to fall short as a treatment for hospitalized Covid-19 patients.