A new Greek drug reduces deaths from Covid by up to 50%, according to the panel that approves new medicines for the European Medicines Agency.
A study designed and coordinated by the Greek Sepsis 2 Study Team, led by Professor Evangelos Giamarellos-Bourboulis, was carried out in collaboration with 37 centers in Greece and Italy.
“For the first time in the history of medicine there is an antiviral drug which has been licensed by the European Medicines Agency, with Greek coordination and Greek design,” said Giamarellos-Bourboulis after receiving the EMA’s green light for the drug.
The spectacular results of the study were published in the journal Nature Medicine.
Greek drug for rheumatoid arthritis repurposed to fight Covid-19
The drug had actually been on the market for many years already as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis.
“Until Anakinra was approved, we had only two drugs available for patients being treated for coronavirus pneumonia. Anakinra has now been added to the global quiver,” said Giamarellos.
“The percentages are amazing. It is the most effective among the three drugs used for hospital use,” he noted, remarking that this will greatly aid in the battle against he coronavirus that the National Health System is currently fighting.
“At a time when many countries still face enormous pressure as they continue to care for extremely ill patients, today’s positive opinion from the CHMP represents an important milestone for the treatment of COVID-19. If approved by the European Commission, this will be welcome news for many across Europe,” said Ravi Rao, Head of Research & Development and Chief Medical Officer at Sobi, a biopharmaceutcal form focused on rare diseases.
“Anakinra now added to the global quiver”
“I would like to congratulate Professor Giamarellos-Bourboulis and his collaborators for conducting this impressive work under such challenging conditions. We look forward to ongoing dialogue with other regulatory agencies to ensure anakinra is available to patients with COVID-19 pneumonia,” said Guido Oelkers, the CEO of Sobi.
Anakinra was used effectively in adult patients with Covid-related pneumonia requiring supplemental oxygen who were at risk of progressing to severe respiratory failure.
Covid-19 infections can lead to death due to an overreaction of the infected person’s inflammatory response, often referred to as a “cytokine storm.” Anakinra is an anti-inflammatory therapy that targets the cytokines themselves.
The research indicated that treatment with Anakinra resulted in a 64% relative reduction of patients progressing into severe disease and death, as well as a 55% relative decrease in mortality, which reached a level of 80% fewer deaths for patients experiencing a cytokine storm.
The researchers found also that treatment with Kineret in addition to the current standard of care showed marked results, reducing the risk of disease progression and death by 64 percent compared to standard of care alone.
Kineret use is associated with an increase in the number of patients who were fully recovered, amounting to 50.4% and a significant reduction in the risk of death by 55% by day 28 of the disease, compared to placebo.