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News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

New guidelines recommend Eli Lilly and GSK drugs in treating COVID-19 patients

Health Industry Hub | January 17, 2022 |
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Pharma News: Update to international guidelines recommend two new drugs for the treatment of COVID-19.

Eli Lilly’s oral JAK inhibitor, used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, is strongly recommended for patients with severe or critical COVID-19 in combination with corticosteroids, according to World Health Organisation (WHO) Guideline Development Group of international experts in The BMJ.

Their strong recommendation is based on moderate certainty evidence that it improves survival and reduces the need for ventilation, with no observed increase in adverse effects.

The WHO experts note that Lilly’s Olumiant (baricitinib) has similar effects to other rheumatoid arthritis drugs called interleukin-6 (IL-6) inhibitors so, when both are available, they suggest choosing one based on cost, availability, and clinician experience.

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However, the experts advise against the use of two other JAK inhibitors (ruxolitinib and tofacitinib) for patients with severe or critical COVID-19 because low certainty evidence from small trials failed to show benefit and suggests a possible increase in serious side effects with tofacitinib.

In the same guideline update, WHO also makes a conditional recommendation for the use of GSK’s monoclonal antibody Xevudy (sotrovimab) in patients with non-severe COVID-19, but only in those at highest risk of hospitalisation, reflecting trivial benefits in those at lower risk.

A similar recommendation has been made by WHO for another monoclonal antibody drug, Roche’s Ronapreve (casirivimab-imdevimab), TGA approved in August 2021. The experts also note that there were insufficient data to recommend one monoclonal antibody treatment over another – and they acknowledge that their effectiveness against new variants like omicron is still uncertain.

As such, they say guidelines for monoclonal antibodies will be updated when additional data become available. These recommendations are based on new evidence from seven trials involving over 4,000 patients with non-severe, severe, and critical COVID-19 infection.

The guidance is also against the use of convalescent plasma, MSD’s  Stromectol (ivermectin) and hydroxychloroquine in patients with COVID-19 regardless of disease severity.


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