Observational Study Identifies Drug (Tocilizumab) That Improves Survival in Sickest COVID-19 Patients

Researchers at Hackensack Meridian Health, New Jersey's largest and most comprehensive health network, have utilized its statewide observational database of more than 5,000 hospitalized COVID-19 patients to show that a drug (tocilizumab) normally used in rheumatoid arthritis and cancer treatments, improves hospital survival in critically-ill patients admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU). The findings were published online on August 14, 2020 in The Lancet Rheumatology, and Hackensack Meridian Health researchers have updated the U.S. FDA and other national leaders of the findings to potentially accelerate improved outcomes. The Lancet article is titled “Tocilizumab Among Patients with COVID-19 in the Intensive Care Unit: A Multicentre Observational Study.” "Our clinicians and researchers at Hackensack Meridian Health have moved quickly and intelligently since the start of this global health crisis," said Robert C. Garrett, FACHE, Chief Executive Officer of Hackensack Meridian Health. "Their work in treating this terrible virus, and learning more about it each day, continues to benefit thousands of patients as the pandemic continues." The study included 630 patients who were admitted to the ICUs of 13 Hackensack Meridian Health hospitals from March 1 to April 22--the height of the pandemic in New Jersey. Among other treatments, tocilizumab was considered for off-label usage for the patients whose respiratory symptoms were declining; many of whom were requiring mechanical ventilator support. In the observational study 210 patients received tocilizumab, and the other 420 did not.
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