Pfizer’s Rheumatoid Arthritis Drug Helps COVID-19 Patients
written by/ July 5, 2021
The results of a recent study could reveal why, unlike those with other autoimmune diseases, RA patients are not at a higher risk of developing COVID-19.
The STOP-COVID study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, examined the effects of a Pfizer drug used to treat Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) and ulcerative colitis called Xeljanz on the clinical outcomes of 289 COVID-19 patients who were hospitalized with respiratory distress. The results were shockingly positive. The study found that Xeljanz (tofacitinib), a medicine that belongs to the group of the so-called JAK inhibitors, improves a patient’s chances of surviving COVID-19.
Specifically, patients who took the drug had an 18% incidence of death, which seems a lot better than the 29% of those patients who didn’t!
Where did this idea come from? Well, scientists know that JAK inhibitors block some of the cytokinins responsible for the deadly COVID-19 cytokine storm.
These results are encouraging because, in a separate trial, other JAK inhibitors like Incyte and Jakafi (Novartis) weren’t able to reduce death among patients infected with COVID-19 successfully.
Meanwhile, researchers are also evaluating the use of other RA drugs like Chloroquine, Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil), and Tocilizumab (Actemra) to fight COVID-19.
The results from these studies are still somewhat controversial.
RA is a lifelong, debilitating condition even without the added coronavirus-induced health complications. So regularly taking an RA treatment might spare you from clinically severe outcomes from both RA and COVID-19.
Other non-medical ways to cope with Rheumatoid Arthritis include lifestyle adjustments, like opting for a memory foam mattress to relieve pressure points or investing in a quality adjustable bed.