Low-Dose Tocilizumab With High-Dose Corticosteroids in Patients Hospitalized for COVID-19 Hypoxic Respiratory Failure Improves Mortality Without Increased Infection Risk

Link to article at PubMed

Ann Pharmacother. 2021 Jun 28:10600280211028882. doi: 10.1177/10600280211028882. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: Severe hypoxic respiratory failure from COVID-19 pneumonia carries a high mortality risk. There is uncertainty surrounding which patients benefit from corticosteroids in combination with tocilizumab and the dosage and timing of these agents. The balance of controlling inflammation without increasing the risk of secondary infection is difficult. At present, dexamethasone 6 mg is the standard of care in COVID-19 hypoxia; whether this is the ideal choice of steroid or dosage remains to be proven.

OBJECTIVES: The primary objective was to assess the impact on mortality of tocilizumab only, corticosteroids only, and combination therapy in patients with COVID-19 respiratory failure.

METHODS: A multihospital, retrospective study of adult patients with severe respiratory failure from COVID-19 who received supportive therapy, corticosteroids, tocilizumab, or combination therapy were assessed for 28-day mortality, biomarker improvement, and relative risk of infection. Propensity-matched analysis was performed between corticosteroid alone and combination therapies to further assess mortality benefit.

RESULTS: The steroid-only, tocilizumab-only, and combination groups showed hazard reduction in mortality at 28 days when compared with supportive therapy. In a propensity-matched analysis, the combination group (daily equivalent dexamethasone 10 mg and tocilizumab 400 mg) had an improved 28-day mortality compared with the steroid-only group (daily equivalent dexamethasone 10 mg; hazard ratio (95% CI) = 0.56 (0.38-0.84), P = 0.005] without increasing the risk of infection.

CONCLUSION AND RELEVANCE: Combination of tocilizumab and corticosteroids was associated with improved 28-day survival when compared with corticosteroids alone. Modification of steroid dosing strategy as well as steroid type may further optimize therapeutic effect of the COVID-19 treatment.

PMID:34180274 | DOI:10.1177/10600280211028882

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