New Delhi: The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday included lifesaving interleukin-6 receptor blockers–tocilizumab and sarilumab- in its list of lifesaving medicines to treat severely or critically ill covid-19 patients.
These drugs are to be administered alongside corticosteroids, WHO said in its updated patient care guidelines. Patients severely or critically ill with covid-19 often suffer from an overreaction of the immune system, which can be very harmful to their health. Interleukin-6 blocking drugs – tocilizumab and sarilumab – act to suppress this overreaction.
These are the first drugs found to be effective against covid-19 since corticosteroids were recommended by WHO in September 2020.
The updated patient care guidelines considered the findings from a prospective and a living network meta-analysis initiated by WHO, the largest such analysis on the drugs to date. Data from over 10,000 patients enrolled in 27 clinical trials were considered.
The prospective and living network meta-analyses showed that in severely or critically ill patients, administering these drugs reduce the odds of death by 13%, compared to standard care. This means that there will be 15 fewer deaths per thousand patients and as many as 28 fewer deaths for every thousand critically ill patients.