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Just when we might have thought there was a light at the end of the tunnel with this COVID pandemic. Instead those lights might be the new COVID-19 variants from the UK and South Africa possibly being the first of many coming to dampen enthusiasm about the pandemic starting to wind down. It seems to be a scenario where we're definitely playing catch up with this virus, and the virus isn't particularly keen to be caught.
Vaccines prevent infection, but once a person develops COVID-19 it becomes about treatment.
And it seems there's going to be a whole lot more of that going on, despite the best efforts of the world's scientific research communities. But how about some good news instead, and that being that a common pain relief medication for rheumatoid arthritis is showing promise for off-label use as a treatment for COVID-19.
Actemra Tocilizumab is the one, and a clinical study recently found that this medication helped patients with severe Covid-19 symptoms to have a better overall chance of survival, plus avoid having to be put on a ventilator.
And considering ventilators have been in short supply in many hospitals all over the world, this definitely has the potential to be a promising development. However, it needs to be said right off the bat here that Actemra Tocilizumab is not a cure for COVID-19. Plus remember that a vaccine of any sort is never a cure either. What they do is prevent you from developing the disease after you've been infected with the virus.
So what are the details here exactly regarding this alternative treatment for COVID using an arthritis pain reliever? Let's have a look at that here.
Off-label uses for Rx drugs are increasingly common, although you should always discuss this with your doctor. You'll need to in order to get the prescription. Actemra Tocilizumab is about to join that group. Keep in mind that the flagship hair loss prevention drug - Propecia - was originally developed for prostate health. Speculation on suggested off-label uses for medication for COVID-19 continues, and new suggestions are that Actemra from Roche has legit off-label use to help mitigate the disease's symptoms.
So what's the substance behind all of this, and how was Actemra Tocilizumab identified as a drug that helps people being treated for COVID-19 and in need of a ventilator. A recent research study done in the United Kingdom found that this rheumatoid arthritis medication reduced a patient's risk of dying from COVID-19, shortened their time to recovery, and made it less likely they would need to be put on a ventilator if they were unable to breathe on their own because of COVID-19 symptoms.
The research use of tocilizumab Actemra would mean the survival of 1 in 4 of any group of patients. Patients that are at immediate risk of dying from COVID when using this arthritis pain relief drug to minimize the effects of COVID-19. That's a very positive prediction, although we can't get ahead of ourselves being pleased with this sort of stuff. Not long ago was when we finally agreed that everything about Hydroxychloroquine to prevent COVID was false.
Despite its popularity with a certain well-know Ex-President who handled the pandemic about as badly as a President possibly could.
That said there's still reason to be optimistic about the use of Actemra Tocilizumab for treating COVID. What's been shared so far is that it works by making oxygen more naturally available and this improves the efficiency of breathing when dealing with majorly compromised lung function. The study mentioned that it was used with some type of steroidal medication.
Actemra from Roche (Actemra being the brand name for Tocilizumab and Roche is the pharmaceutical manufacturer that makes Actemra) was paired with Dexamethasone, a steroidal medication that counters the inflammation that occurs and contributes to how a COVID patient may need to go on a ventilator for assisted breathing.
Another similar drug for rheumatoid arthritis, Kevzara, may have the same potential as a drug with off-label use for treating COVID19, and it's very likely that use is being looked into right now as well. However, we wonder why both the US FDA and Health Canada were so slow to look into Actemra compared to others around the globe. Specifically as China had use of Actemra Tocilizumab documented within its COVID-19 protocol early in 2020.
Given that the World is certainly in the worst of the predicted 2nd Wave of the pandemic, we do hope that medications like Actemra Tocilizumab can be used off-label and make a real difference here. Improved means of treating the disease and keeping patients stable would make a difference for anxieties about the vaccine, but it would likely add to the problem of overburdening the healthcare system the same way.
This is why we need continued vaccine roll outs, research into other vaccine possibilities, and getting as many people immunized against COVID as soon as that's logistically possible.