Arthritis drug cuts COVID deaths and hospital stays in big randomized trial: Author – Beth Mole

Ars Technica

A medical staff member adjusts a ventilator on a patient in the COVID-19 intensive care unit (ICU) at the United Memorial Medical Center on December 2, 2020 in Houston, Texas.

Enlarge / A medical staff member adjusts a ventilator on a patient in the COVID-19 intensive care unit (ICU) at the United Memorial Medical Center on December 2, 2020 in Houston, Texas. (credit: Getty | Go Nakamura)

An anti-inflammatory arthritis drug called tocilizumab modestly reduces deaths and hospital stays in patients with severe COVID-19, according to preliminary data from a randomized trial of over 4,000 patients.

Among hospitalized patients requiring oxygen in the trial, there were 596 deaths in the group of 2,022 patients randomly assigned to take tocilizumab—29 percent died—and 694 deaths in the group of 2,094 patients randomly assigned to standard care—33 percent died. That’s an absolute difference of 4 percent in deaths and a 14 percent drop in the relative rate of death.

Tocilizumab also appeared to shorten hospital stays, boosting the chances that surviving patients could leave the hospital within 28 days after randomization from 47 percent to 54 percent.

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