China will use Roche's arthritis drug tocilizumab, sold under the brand name Actemra, to treat some COVID-19 patients in severe conditions, as reported by ChannelNewsAsia.
The drug can be prescribed to COVID-19 patients who show serious lung damage and elevated IL-6 levels, which could indicate inflammation or immunological diseases, the National Health Commission said in the latest version of its treatment guidelines.
Chinese researchers recently registered a three-month clinical trial for Actemra that will recruit 188 patients infected with the novel coronavirus and which will take place from February 10 to May 10, according to records shown on China's clinical trials registration database.
Roche said on Monday that it had donated about $2 million worth of Actemra during February.
Meanwhile, Chinese drugmakers have been racing to develop alternatives to Roche's treatment, according to the news source.
Bio-Thera Solutions expects to file new drug approval for its Actemra biosimilar in 2021, and Zhejiang Hisun Pharmaceutical received in 2016 regulatory approval to conduct clinical trials for its tocilizumab candidate, company filings showed.
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