Biotech company Regeneron, which has a major industrial operations centre in Limerick, has expanded trails of its arthritis drug as a possible treatment for Covid-19.
In a partnership with French drug company Sanofi, Regeneron has begun treating the first patient outside of the US as part of a global clinical program evaluating Kevzara in patients hospitalised with severe COVID-19.
The global clinical program has now been initiated in Italy, Spain, Germany, France, Canada, Russia and the United States – all countries that have been impacted by COVID-19.
The aim of the trial is to evaluate how Kevzara impacts patients’ fevers and need for supplemental oxygen.
The drug-makers will also assess the improvement in longer-term outcomes including preventing death and reducing the need for mechanical ventilation, supplemental oxygen, and hospitalisation.
"Data from a single-arm study in China suggest that the interleukin-6 pathway may play an important role in the overactive inflammatory response in the lungs of patients with COVID-19. Despite this encouraging finding, it's imperative to conduct a properly designed, randomized trial to understand the true impact of Kevzara, which we are now doing through this global clinical trial program," said George D. Yancopoulos Co-founder, President and Chief Scientific Officer of Regeneron.
Separately, Regeneron is to begin human trials of a new Covid-19 treatment by early summer.
The company is working toward the goal of producing hundreds of thousands of doses per month by the end of summer and hopes to have smaller quantities available for initial clinical testing at the beginning of the summer.
Headquartered in New York, the company employs almost 1,000 people in the former Dell factory in Raheen.