World Health Organization (WHO) today issued a recommendation in favor of the use of the drug baricitinib in combination with corticosteroids for the treatment of seriously ill patients with COVID-19.
This recommendation is based on the evidence obtained and that shows that this product improves the probability of surviving the complications that COVID-19 can cause and reduces the need for mechanical ventilation, according to a statement issued by the organization.
Baricitinib has not been found to cause adverse effects in research and trials.
The civil humanitarian organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), which has provided aid in personnel and equipment to the most needy countries during the pandemic, reacted to the new WHO recommendation asking governments to do what is necessary so that patents are not an obstacle to accessing this treatment.
Baricitinib is a drug used commonly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and its usefulness in treating critical cases of COVID-19 is similar to that of another similar drug, interleukin-6.
The WHO said that, when both are available, one or the other should be used depending on which is cheaper and on which there is more clinical information.
Instead, he advised against the use of two other drugs in a similar category. -ruxolitinib and tofacitinib- because the few trials that have been done with them did not show benefits for patients and in the case of tofacitinib it was even observed that it could cause serious side effects.
These recommendations come from the results of seven trials involving four thousand patients with moderate, severe and severe COVID-19.
Meanwhile, MSF said in a statement that generic versions of baricitinib are available for purchase in India and Bangladesh at much lower prices than those charged by its original producer, the US company Eli Lilly.
According to the humanitarian organization, this medicine can purchased at $6.7 in Bangladesh and $5.5 in India for a full course of COVID-19 (4 mg daily for 14 days), while Eli Lilly has it at a price of two thousand 326 dollars per treatment.
“However, in many countries, generic baricitinib is not available because it is under a patent monopoly, with Eli Lilly having applied for and obtained patents in many places, including countries hard hit by the pandemic, such as Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia and Russia,” said the NGO.