THE UK’S state-funded National Health Service (NHS) said it is rolling out the use of the arthritis drug Baricitinib after it has proven to save lives when given to the most seriously ill Covid patients in hospitals.
A trial carried out through the NHS and the University of Oxford found that 13 per cent fewer severely ill patients died of Covid-19 when treated with Baricitinib compared to existing treatment options. Typically used to treat arthritis to reduce pain and inflammation, the NHS said Baricitinib can now be given to hospitalised Covid patients in addition to current treatments.
“The more effective Covid treatments within the NHS arsenal, the more options doctors have to help patients who become seriously ill with Covid, preventing hospital admissions and saving lives,” said the NHS medical director, professor Steve Powis.
“This is the fourth drug that has been fast-tracked for use on the NHS thanks to the world-leading RECOVERY (Randomised Evaluation of Covid-19 Therapy) trial and is just as important because it gives our hard-working clinicians another life-saving treatment option and strengthens our defence against Covid-19,” he said.
Arthritis drugs work by reducing inflammation caused by Covid-19 by blocking signals to the immune system that are causing it to attack the body. Patients given Baricitinib will receive a daily dose for 10 days or until they are discharged from hospitals, whichever comes first.
According to the NHS, the drug bolsters the options at doctors’ disposal when looking to treat hospitalised patients in the most effective way and can be used to supplement other Covid treatments in patients aged two and over. It will be the seventh Covid treatment approved in total for use on the NHS.
The move is described as the latest in an armoury of Covid treatments that the NHS has at its disposal, which now includes three repurposed arthritis drugs.
The NHS says it has led the rollout of Covid medicines, from the discovery of Dexamethasone as “the world’s first effective treatment” to the first vaccination outside of a clinical trial in December 2020.
As well as these arthritis drugs, the NHS says it will continue to use other monoclonal antibodies and antiviral treatments.