A late-stage study of two rheumatoid arthritis drugs from Bristol Myers Squibb and Johnson & Johnson showed a significant drop in deaths among hospitalized COVID patients, a US health agency said on Thursday.
However, both the drugs failed to meet the main goal of speeding up recovery compared with a placebo, the study of nearly 2,000 patients by National Institutes of Health (NIH) showed.
Those who received J&J’s Remicade had 40.5% lower adjusted odds of dying than the placebo group, while those on Bristol Myers’ Orencia had 37.4%.
“When given in addition to standard-of-care treatments, like remdesivir and dexamethasone, infliximab (Remicade) and abatacept (Orencia) each offered a substantial reduction in mortality,” said the trial’s protocol chair, William Powderly.
Both groups of patients also had substantially better odds of clinical improvement than those on placebo, the study showed.
Started in October 2020, the study was part of a public-private partnership for coordinated research on promising treatments and vaccines against COVID-19. (https://reut.rs/3aDOHLZ)
The trial was testing the two drugs, along with AbbVie’s experimental candidate cenicriviroc, to treat an overactive immune response called “cytokine storm” seen in certain patients with moderate-to-severe COVID-19.
Enrollment for the cenicriviroc group was stopped in September last year due to lack of efficacy.
(Reporting by Leroy Leo in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath)