China has recently approved the use of Roche Holding AG’s Actemra, an anti-inflammation drug, in a clinical trial for the treatment of complications arising from coronavirus.

The country has been seeking to build treatment regiments to help patients recover from coronavirus infection. To cater to this initiative, it will test some older drugs for the treatment of CRS (cytokine release syndrome), which is an immune system overreaction. Currently, the syndrome is considered as the cause of severe death and catastrophic organ failure in some coronavirus infected patients.

National Health Commission in China has recently reported the significant adoption of Actemra for the treatment of coronavirus-infected patients to curb the spread and impact of the virus worldwide. It will be offered to infected patients with high IL-6 levels and lung damage.

In the clinical trial carried out by third-party researchers in China, Actemra (generically known as tocilizumab) is being tested with an aim to explore the safety and efficacy of the drug on CRS among patients infected with coronavirus. The trial will last until May 10 and include 188 coronavirus infected patients.

Actemra is a biologic drug that has been approved for use in the United States in 2010 for the treatment of RA (rheumatoid arthritis), including giant cell arthritis and rare juvenile arthritis. The drug has been reportedly priced at between $20-30,000 annually for RA. It is also an inhibitor of interleukin-6 (IL-6) , which drives various inflammatory diseases.

Roche has recently donated Actemra worth $2.02 million to carry out the independent research for the drug, as there was no current clinical data of its efficacy and safety for use against the virus. The Swiss healthcare company also manufactures diagnostic gears for the detection of the virus.

According to the current record, the deadly virus has claimed the life of more than 3,000 people, with over 93,000 cases of infection worldwide. Originating in Wuhan, China, it has spread across 90 countries including Switzerland, Germany, and the United States, among others.

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https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-china-roche-hldg/china-approves-use-of-roche-drug-in-battle-against-coronavirus-complications-idUSKBN20R0LF