There are people confined to hospitals due to COVID-19, all needing some sort of help that could come in the form of drugs. It appears there is a certain kind of arthritis drug from Pfizer that can help thanks to a recent study.

The drug is called the Xeljanz, an oral rheumatoid arthritis drug that reportedly reduces death or respiratory failure in hospitalized COVID-19 patients with pneumonia in Brazil, Reuters reported.

This was found in a study carried out on 289 hospitalized adult patients with respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus. The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

According to Pfizer, the incidence of death or respiratory failure was 18.1% for patients treated with the drug compared to 29% for placebo. 20 patients treated with the drug had serious adverse events compared to 17 patients on placebo.

For those who may not know, Xeljanz belongs to a class of drugs called JAK inhibitors. They are also used to treat an autoimmune disease called ulcerative colitis. JAK inhibition could reduce the release of cytokines, which can cause serious inflammation-driven lung injury or even death in hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

However, Xeljanz has not yet been approved nor authorized for use in any country as a treatment for COVID-19.

Also worth noting is that Xeljanz poses some safety questions after a postmarketing study flagged it with heart risks. The FDA is under the impression that it is a class-wide problem, a reason seen behind the delayed decisions on multiple JAK drugs in various indications.

It is because of this safety concern that the trial has excluded those who have a history of blood clots. People behind it have recorded four specific heart-related side effects of interest in the Xeljanz group. Hemorrhagic stroke and cardiogenic shock were among those that happened in one patient each in the placebo group.

La entrada principal de Pfizer en New York City, Agosto 31, 2003. Reuters/Jeff Christensen JC

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