Eli Lilly & Co’s Rheumatoid Arthritis Drug. and GlaxoSmithKline Plc’s monoclonal antibody won the support of World Health Organization experts for the treatment of Covid-19 as new infections rise around the world.
There is some evidence that Lilly’s baricitinib may improve survival and reduce the need for ventilation in critically ill patients, the WHO said in a statement, advising a combination with corticosteroids. Two other drugs in the same class, known as JAK inhibitors, should not be used for Covid, the agency said.
The WHO guideline update validates conclusions reached months ago by some health regulators. The advice on baricitinib, for example, comes after US and European Union agencies approved the use of emergency drugs last May. Some scientists criticized the Geneva-based agency for not taking the antiviral pills developed by Pfizer Inc. and Merck & Co., had considered.
“The main problem with this version of the guideline is the silence about the possible community use of oral antiviral drugs, which are now approved for use in multiple countries,” said Penny Ward, a visiting professor of pharmaceutical medicine at King’s College London. , in comments to the UK Science Media Center.
The WHO also approved the monoclonal antibody of Glaxo and Vir Biotechnology Inc. good for patients who are not very ill but are likely to require hospitalization, even though the WHO acknowledged that the effectiveness of the antibodies against the omicron variant “is still uncertain”. The US and UK approved Glaxo-Vir treatment last year.
Another monoclonal antibody developed by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. received WHO approval last year. There isn’t enough data to recommend one product over another, the Geneva-based agency said Friday.
Doctors Without Borders called on governments to ensure that the drug Lilly can be made available at low cost in poorer countries, as generic forms are already sold in India and Bangladesh.
Baricitinib has similar effects to other arthritis medicines called interleukin-6 inhibitors, such as tocilizumab from Roche Holding AG, so when both are available, the WHO suggested choosing one based on cost, availability and experience of the drug. clinician.
–With help from Naomi Kresge and Thomas Mulier.
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