Shares of Roche gain as it says arthritis drug can lessen need for ventilators in COVID-19 patients

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Shares of Roche Holding AG gained 1.9% in premarket trading on Friday after the drug maker said hospitalized COVID-19 patients taking rheumatoid arthritis drug Actemra were less likely to need mechanical ventilation than those receiving placebo. The Phase 3, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study focused on enrolling minority patients with COVID-19-related pneumonia; there are 389 participants enrolled in the trial. However, the drug did not lead to a difference in mortality, Roche said. Roche is also testing Actemra with Gilead Sciences Inc.’s remdesivir, which is the only new drug to receive an emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration as a COVID-19 treatment during the pandemic. Earlier this week Eli Lilly & Co. and Incyte Corp. said their rheumatoid arthritis drug Olumiant when paired with remdesivir shortened recovery time for hospitalized coronavirus patients. Both findings, neither of which have been published yet in a peer-reviewed medical journal, for the first time in months point to a clinical benefit for rheumatoid arthritis drugs when treating some COVID-19 patients after a series of setbacks over the summer. Shares of Roche have gained 16.4% so far this year. Shares of Roche have gained 16.4% so far this year, while the S&P 500 is up 3.9%.
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