Oxford to study anti-inflammatory drug Humira as potential COVID-19 treatment

LONDON (Reuters) – Oxford University said on Wednesday it would study whether the world’s best-selling prescription medicine, adalimumab, was an effective treatment for COVID-19 patients, the latest effort to repurpose existing drugs as potential coronavirus therapies.

Adalimumab, sold by AbbVie under the brand name Humira, is a type of anti-inflammatory known as an anti-tumour necrosis factor (anti-TNF) drug. Recent studies have shown that COVID-19 patients already taking anti-TNF drugs for inflammatory bowel disease and inflammatory arthritis are less likely to be admitted to hospital, Oxford said in a statement.

The trial, called AVID-CC, will be aimed at treating people in the community, especially in care homes, the university said. It will enrol up to 750 patients from community care settings throughout the UK.

The availability of biosimilar versions of the medicine, used for over two decades as an anti-flammatory, would make it affordable and accessible if the trial is successful, it said.

Research has identified some treatments for hospitalised COVID-19 patients, including Gilead’s remdesivir as well as the generic steroid drug dexamethasone.

But there are not yet effective therapies for people who are not admitted to hospital. Care homes were particularly hard hit by the first wave of COVID-19 in the UK and other countries.

(Reporting by Josephine Mason and Kate Kelland in London and John Miller in Zurich; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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