WHO ‘Strongly Recommends’ Two New Drugs to Treat Covid-19 Patients

ADDIS ABABA – The World Health Organization or WHO’s Experts have today “strongly recommended” baricitinib drug for patients with severe or critical covid-19 in combination with corticosteroids.

Baricitinib, a type of drug also known as a Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor, is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis.

WHO Guideline Development Group of international experts’ strong recommendation is based on moderate certainty evidence that it improves survival.

It also reduces the need for ventilation, with no observed increase in adverse effects, said the experts.

The WHO experts noted that baricitinib has similar effects to other arthritis drugs called interleukin-6 (IL-6) inhibitors so, when both are available, they suggest choosing one based on cost, availability, and clinician experience.

It is not recommended to use both drugs at the same time, according to the WHO.

The experts, however, advised against the use of two other JAK inhibitors or ruxolitinib and tofacitinib for patients with severe or critical covid-19.

This is due to low certainty evidence from small trials failed to show benefit and suggests a possible increase in serious side effects with tofacitinib, according to the WHO.

In the same guideline update, the WHO has also made a conditional recommendation for the use of the monoclonal antibody Sotrovimab in patients with non-severe covid-19.

The use of this drug, however, is recommended in those at highest risk of hospitalization, reflecting trivial benefits in those at lower risk.

Today’s recommendations are based on new evidence from seven trials involving over 4,000 patients with non-severe, severe, and critical covid-19 infection, said the UN Health Agency.

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