In an attempt to increase the access to recommended treatments for COVID-19, World Health Organization (WHO) has today added Tocilizumab to the list of prequalified treatments of COVID-19. It is a monoclonal antibody. So far, six COVID-19 treatments have been prequalified by WHO, including the three presentations (which include three vials, each of which is with a different quantity).
Overall, three prequalified products have been produced by the manufacturing company, Roche, but the listing should provide the way for the several companies to step ahead to seek WHO prequalification, thereby increasing the number of quality-assured products & creating competition leading to potentially lower prices. The prequalification of these products will also provide the way to low and middle-income nations’ authorization of them as treatments for COVID-19.
According to reports, Tocilizumab is a monoclonal antibody that inhibits the Interleukin-6 (IL-6) receptor. Interleukin-6 inflame an inflammatory response & is found in high levels in critically ill patients with the COVID-19.
At the same time, the product has been authorized mostly for curing arthritis in about 120 nations across the globe.
As per several clinical studies, Tocilizumab given intravenously has been shown to lower the chances of death in certain patients with COVID-19 who are severely ill, are rapidly deteriorating and have increasingly required oxygen, and who have a major inflammatory response. During the largest clinical trial (RECOVERY), Tocilizumab also lowers down the patient’s time in the hospital.
Meanwhile, the WHO asks the severely affected patients with severe or critical COVID-19 to take Tocilizumab. A healthcare worker must administer it in an adequately monitored clinical setting and the current standard of care for COVID-19, which includes oxygen and several other medications.
At the same time, Tocilizumab is expensive and is short in supply across the globe. It is expected that with the soaring demand, and more manufacturers are entering into the market, prices could come down.
Moreover, WHO and its partners are also discussing lower prices and improved access in low- and middle-income countries with the producer, Roche.