Civic hospitals try arthritis medicine on critical patients

Tocilizumab has shown improvement in patients’ radiological results and oxygen saturation levels, doctors said.   | Photo Credit: PASCAL ROSSIGNOL

Altogether 19 critical patients at BYL Nair Hospital and four patients in SevenHills Hospital suffering from COVID-19 have been administered an arthritis drug that helps control further damage to organs and tissues. The injection of tocilizumab has shown improvement in patients’ radiological results as well as oxygen saturation levels.

Dr. Mohan Joshi, who is at the helm of both the COVID-19 facilities, said the results have been very encouraging. He said 16 out of the 19 patients who received the drug at Nair hospital have shown signs of recovery. “The corporation has purchased this drug and we have started administering it to patients who are critical,” said Dr. Joshi.

Many COVID-19 patients develop a cytokine storm, which is an overproduction of immune cells and their activating compounds known as cytokines. Interleukin-6 (IL-6) plays an important role in the release of cytokines.

Medical experts say blocking IL-6 helps in patients’ recovery. Tocilizumab, a Roche drug marketed by Cipla, is an IL-6 blocker.

Infectious disease expert Dr. Tanu Singhal from Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital said themedicine does help in treating some critical patients.

“We have used the drug in five critical patients so far. While two patients have recovered and gone home, one is under treatment. Two other patients passed away,” she said. The drug is expensive; one vial costs over ₹40,000. “We need at least two vials for one patient,” she said.

KEM Hospital in Parel too has purchased tocilizumab and administered it to one patient so far, who has recovered and gone home.

The hospital has also started a trial with Biocon’s psoriasis drug called itolizumab. “Biocon has given the drug to us free of cost for the trial,” said Dr. Hemant Deshmukh, dean of KEM Hospital. “We have already administered it to one patient, who is doing fine,” he said. Nair hospital is also starting itolizumab trials on Friday.

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Printable version | Oct 24, 2020 8:06:27 AM |

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