Hospitals will begin using two new life-saving treatments for intensive care Covid patients, after trials showed they can cut hospital stays by up to 10 days, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has announced.
The rollout of these treatments – already available in hospitals across the UK – could help ‘significantly’ reduce pressures on secondary care over the coming weeks and months, the DHSC said.
Results from the Government-funded clinical trial, announced today (7 January), also found that the two drugs – tocilizumab and sarilumab – can cut the risk of death by 24% when administered within 24 hours of entering intensive care, potentially saving ‘hundreds of lives’.
Most of the data came from when the drugs were administered in addition to a corticosteroid, such as dexamethasone – also discovered through government-backed research, DHSC said.
The announcement said patients receiving these drugs – typically used to treat rheumatoid arthritis – left intensive care between seven and 10 days earlier on average, adding that government guidance will be updated tomorrow to encourage their immediate use.
The DHSC added that it is working closely with Roche – the manufacturer of tocilizumab – to ensure treatments continue to be available to UK patients.
Matt Hancock, health secretary, said: ‘Today’s results are yet another landmark development in finding a way out of this pandemic and, when added to the armoury of vaccines and treatments already being rolled out, will play a significant role in defeating this virus.
‘We have worked quickly to ensure this treatment is available to NHS patients without delay, meaning hundreds of lives will be saved.
‘I am hugely proud of the significant role our NHS and its patients have played in this international trial, and grateful to the outstanding scientists and clinicians behind REMAP-CAP who have brought this treatment to our patients.’
Jonathan Van-Tam, deputy chief medical officer, said: ‘This is a significant step forward for increasing survival of patients in intensive care with Covid-19. The data shows that tocilizumab, and likely sarilumab, speed up and improve the odds of recovery in intensive care, which is crucial for helping to relieve pressure on intensive care and hospitals and saving lives.
‘This is evidence of the UK’s excellent research infrastructure and life sciences industry advancing global understanding of this disease, which we have done both through our own programme of clinical research and through our ability to make very large contributions to international studies.’