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Drug May Reduce Need for Ventilators in COVID-19 Patients

85 percent of study population was Hispanic, Black, Native American, other ethnic or racial minorities

Woman in hospital with breathing difficulties using a respiration mask

FRIDAY, Sept. 18, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- An inflammation-fighting medicine was associated with reduced use of ventilators among COVID-19 patients, according to a study that included mainly Hispanics and Blacks.

The study was conducted by Roche, which sells the intravenous drug tocilizumab (Actemra and RoActemra) to treat rheumatoid arthritis and other diseases, the Associated Press reported. The study included 389 people in the United States, South Africa, Kenya, Brazil, Mexico, and Peru. Of the participants, about 85 percent were Hispanic, Black, Native American, or other ethnic or racial minorities -- groups that have been disproportionately harmed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

About 12 percent of patients who received the drug needed a breathing machine or died within 28 days compared with about 19 percent of those in the placebo group, the AP reported. Death rates were 8.6 percent among those who received the drug and 10.4 percent among those who received placebo, but the difference is so small that it might have been by chance.

Roche said it would quickly publish the results, which have not yet been reviewed by independent scientists, the AP reported.

AP News Article

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