What is Tocilizumab and does it work to treat Coronavirus?


Tocilizumab is the name of a rheumatoid arthritis drug which apparently has given positive results when treating patients with the deadly coronavirus also known as COVID-19.

According to reports the FDA has given green light to a trial of the Tocilizumab drug to treat COVID-19 pneumonia as a NYC doctor says his symptoms improved after he got it. The drug is also said to be giving promising results in Italy.

This medication is used alone or with other medications to treat moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis in adults. Online results also say, Tocilizumab may also be used to treat a reaction (Cytokine Release Syndrome-CRS) caused by certain cancer treatments.

The NY Daily news reports Dr. Paolo Ascierto from the Pascale Hospital in Naples said critically ill patients suffering from COVID-19 pneumonia -showed significant improvement when treated with Tocilizumab.


Another positive refenrence applying Tocilizumab comes via a Brooklyn doctor diagnosed with COVID-19 who revealed on social media in a Twitter post, that he was first treated using Hydroxychloroquine and Azithromycin, the cocktail touted by President Trump. However, his symptoms got much worse. In the same post he said he later received intravenous Tocilizumab and was hoping to improve.
Dr. Jignesh A. Patel -a a Cardiology fellow -said he was suffering from fevers, cough, wheezing and shortness of breath when he deteriorated further on the second day of using Hydroxychloroquine and Azithromycin. He later tweeted a hopeful message saying that 12 hours after getting Tocilizumab he was able to talk a little, and that he was still coughing but definitely better.

Earlier this week, Dr. Patel tweeted that he had no fever for two days in a row and was being discharged from the hospital. He said his coughing still made it too difficult to talk and that he still won’t be able to hug and kiss his wife and little daughter for a few more days.

According to Genentech (Roche), the manufacturer, the FDA has approved the initiation of a double-blind, randomized phase III clinical trial of the oncology supportive care drug tocilizumab (Actemra) for use in combination with standard of care for the treatment of hospitalized adult patients with severe COVID-19 pneumonia.
Beyond CRS, tocilizumab also has FDA-approved indications for rheumatoid arthritis, giant cell arteritis, polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis, and systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis.