China will use Roche Holding AG's arthritis drug to treat some coronavirus patients in severe conditions, health officials said Wednesday as the country is trying to set up treatment regimens to help those infected recover.
Tocilizumab, marketed by the Swiss pharmaceutical giant under the trade name Actemra, can be prescribed to coronavirus patients who have severe lung damage and have an elevated level of a protein called interleukin 6, which could indicate inflammation or immunological diseases, according to the National Health Commission in The latest version of the treatment guidelines published online.
Roche says Actemra can help reduce inflammation associated with interleukin 6.
However, there are as yet no clinical studies showing that the drug will be effective in coronavirus patients. Actemra has also not received approval from the Chinese National Medical Product Administration for sale to treat coronavirus infections.
Chinese researchers recently registered a three-month Actemra clinical trial that recruited 188 coronavirus patients. This takes place from February 10th to May 10th. This is evident from records listed in the China Clinical Trial Registration Database.
Roche could not be reached immediately for comment. The company announced Monday that it donated 14 million yuan ($ 2.02 million) to Actemra in February.
The company expects sales and earnings to grow in January this year as demand for new drugs and more business in China offset the declines in older drugs whose patents have expired.
Chinese drug manufacturers have tried to develop alternatives to treating Roche. Bio-Thera Solutions Ltd expects to file a new drug approval for its Actemra biosimilar in 2021, and Zhejiang Hisun Pharmaceutical Co Ltd received regulatory approval to conduct clinical trials for its tocilizumab candidate in 2016.
Biosimilars are cheaper versions of complex biotech drugs like Actemra.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)