It seems more incremental than blockbuster. I don’t think it’s a game changer - Dr. Taison Bell
image by: Fernanda Bardan
In mid-November, an arthritis drug with a tricky name hit a pandemic milestone — then slipped back into relative obscurity.
The drug, baricitinib, was granted an emergency authorization by the Food and Drug Administration to treat a subset of hospitalized Covid-19 patients in combination with another medication, the antiviral remdesivir. It is one of only a handful of treatments to have earned the agency’s green light.
But baricitinib’s reception by the medical community has been lukewarm. It doesn’t work all that well, for one thing, and comes with side effects, such as blood clots. And at a cost of roughly $1,500 per patient, many doctors don’t know when it would make…
“I think it’s really a nothing burger,” said Dr. Ilan Schwartz, an infectious disease physician at the University of Alberta. “We’re talking about adding a drug that reduces the time to clinical improvement by one day, in a disease that takes weeks to recover.”
Olumiant is a prescription medicine called a Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor used to treat adults with moderately to severely active rheumatoid arthritis after treatment with 1 or more medicines called tumor necrosis factor (TNF) blockers have been used, and did not work well enough or could not be tolerated.
Immunosuppression induced by JAK inhibitors could potentially reduce the inflammation and associated immunopathologies observed in patients with COVID-19.
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