Rheumatoid arthritis drug and standard care may reduce mortality for hospitalized COVID-19 patients

Sept. 8, 2021

Hospitalized patients with COVID-19 who received the rheumatoid arthritis drug baricitinib, in combination with the standard of care including corticosteroids, died less often than those receiving only the standard of care, according to a study released in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, as reported in a news release from Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

In addition to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Emory University was also involved in the study, which included 1,525 hospitalized patients on supplemental oxygen from 101 centers across 12 countries in Asia, Europe, North America and South America.

Patients in the COV-BARRIER trial were randomly assigned to receive baricitinib vs. placebo once a day for up to 14 days in addition to the standard of care, which included the medications dexamethasone and remdesivir.

The COV-BARRIER investigation found that baricitinib reduces 28-day and 60-day mortality by 5% as compared to placebo.

Baricitinib is an inhibitor of Janus kinases (JAK) 1 and 2. “Drugs like baricitinib stop multiple pathways of the inflammatory cascade to hold down the inflammation that COVID would usually start,” said E. Wesley Ely, MD, MPH, Grant Liddle Professor of Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Baricitinib was identified in February 2020 as a potential intervention for the treatment of COVID-19.

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