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Solving COVID

Arthritis drug reduces COVID-19 deaths in study

The arthritis drug tocilizumab has been shown to reduce deaths among patients hospitalized with severe COVID-19 in a new study.

In the trial, 2,022 hospitalized COVID-19 patients received tocilizumab, while 2,094 patients received usual care; in the former group, 29 percent of patients died within 28 days, while 33 percent of patients died within 28 days in the latter group, BBC News reports. Eighty-two percent of patients were taking a systemic steroid like dexamethasone in the trial.

"This means that for every 25 patients treated with tocilizumab, one additional life would be saved," a news release said.

Additionally, tocilizumab was shown to shorten the amount of time until patients are discharged from the hospital, as well as reduce the need for them to go on a mechanical ventilator, researchers said. The trial's joint chief investigator, Martin Landray, said that the results "clearly show the benefits of tocilizumab and dexamethasone in tackling the worst consequences of COVID-19 — improving survival, shortening hospital stay, and reducing the need for mechanical ventilators." Landray added that "used in combination, the impact is substantial."