Friday January 14, 2022
Two more drugs WHO recommends new Covid-19 therapies
One is normally used as an arthritis drug, the other is based on monoclonal antibodies: With two new drugs, the WHO now endorses a total of five Covid 19 therapies. However, only for certain patient groups.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends two other medicines for the treatment of Covid-19 patients. These are the active substance baricitinib, which was developed to treat rheumatoid arthritis, and sotrovimab, a monoclonal antibody specially developed for Covid-19 patients. The new recommendation is based on seven studies with more than 4,000 patients, the WHO experts reported in the specialist magazine “The BMJ”. According to the new guideline, seriously ill Covid-19 patients have better chances of survival with baricitinib and the need for artificial ventilation is reduced. No side effects were observed. The drug should be administered in combination with corticosteroids. Covid-19 patients with a less severe course of the disease but a high risk of hospitalization could benefit from the use of the monoclonal antibody sotrovimab, writes the WHO. These include, for example, the elderly, people with immunodeficiency or chronic diseases such as diabetes. The product with the brand name Xevudy is also approved in the EU. The benefit of sotrovimab for patients who do not belong to risk groups is considered to be small. In addition, according to the WHO experts, the effectiveness of the drug against the highly contagious omicron variant is “still uncertain”.
WHO has already rejected several treatment methods
So far, only three other treatments for Covid disease have been recommended by the WHO. Since September 2020, this has included the treatment of seriously ill patients with corticosteroids. Corticosteroids fight inflammation that usually accompanies severe corona cases. They are inexpensive and widely available. In July, WHO also endorsed the use of the arthritis drugs tocilizumab and sarilumab. These suppress a dangerous overreaction of the immune system to the SARS-CoV-2 virus by inhibiting the protein interlokin-6 (IL-6), which regulates inflammatory reactions. Baricitinib is in a different class of drugs but falls under the same guidelines as the IL-6 inhibitors. “If both are available,” the doctors should decide for themselves which of the drugs to use, “depending on the cost, availability and experience of the practitioners,” recommended the WHO experts. Baricitinib is one of the so-called Janus kinase inhibitors that are used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease. However, the other drugs in this family (ruxolitinib and tofacitinib) should not be used against Covid, WHO experts warned. There was a lack of data on their effectiveness or side effects in the treatment of corona patients. The WHO recommendations for the treatment of Covid are regularly updated based on clinical studies. However, the therapeutic arsenal is still small. In recent months, the WHO has rejected several treatment methods: the injection of plasma from recovered Covid patients, ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine.
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