Roche Kenya Ltd has enlisted Kenyan patients to take part in its clinical trial for a potential Covid-19 drug.
The study is being done at the Clinical Research Unit of the Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi to determine the efficacy and safety of Roche’s medicine Actemra (tocilizumab) in the treatment of Covid-19 associated pneumonia in hospitalized patients.
“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve rapidly in Kenya and around the world and Roche is doing everything we can to contribute. Our people are working day and night with the aim of developing, manufacturing, and supplying key tests and medicines where they are needed most. We are so glad to see Kenyan patients on the EMPACTA trial,” said Dr. Beatrice Nyawira, Medical Director, Roche Kenya Ltd.
“Disparities and lack of diversity in medical research hold the global community back, and Roche Kenya is proud to help close this gap.”
The study was initiated by Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, in the US in May and has expanded to other sites including South Africa, Kenya, Brazil, Mexico, and Peru.
“This is a watershed moment for Kenya and us at the Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi, that we can participate in an international clinical trial that is testing the effectiveness of this novel drug on our patients here,” said Dr. Reena Shah, Associate Professor of Medicine in Infectious Diseases, and the Principal Investigator of the study in Kenya.
“This is where we contribute knowledge and experience about our capability and the outcome of our patients to the international community.”
The drug is expected to work on the body’s immune system by inhibiting Interleukin-6 receptors to prevent pneumonia, a characteristic of patients infected with Covid-19.
The medicine triggers an immune reaction in the lungs whose cells produce a substance called Interleukin-6 (IL-6) that tries to kill the virus.