February 11, 2021 3.49 pm This story is over 17 months old

COVID-19 patients to receive life-saving anti-inflammatory drug treatment

Reduces hospital stays and death risk by 14%

Thousands of NHS patients across the country who are suffering from COVID-19 will now have access to new life-saving treatment.

The government has announced the rollout of an anti-inflammatory drug called tocilizumab, which is used for treating rheumatoid arthritis.

The drug has been found to reduce the risk of death by 14%, and the time spent in hospital is cut by five days when used for patients on oxygen.

The latest findings from RECOVERY, a clinical trials group run by the University of Oxford, show that tocilizumab can be given to patients outside of intensive care with oxygen deficiency, potentially saving thousands more lives.

It is the second treatment approved for patients by the trials, after corticosteroid dexamethasone, which reduces death risk by 20% for patients on oxygen, and 35% for ventilated patients.

Roche Products will work closely with the government to distribute the drug and make it available across multiple NHS healthcare settings from Monday.

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam has a gift of using metaphors to explain various situations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Deputy chief medical officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said: “These results present another important advance in our fight against COVID-19 and are good news for patients and clinicians around the world – it’s a combination of both effective therapeutics and vaccines that will mean an end to this pandemic.

“The data published today mean many more patients in hospital with COVID-19 will have access to a proven treatment, speeding up their recovery and reducing the risk of mortality significantly.

“It’s because of the UK’s world-class clinical trials infrastructure, including NIHR infrastructure in NHS hospitals, and the generosity of UK patients to volunteer even though they are ill themselves, that trials like RECOVERY are able to deliver definitive evidence that will save lives, and I am hugely grateful to all those involved.”