* EMA evaluates application to use Kineret as COVID-19
* Outcome of evaluation expected in October
* Kineret is latest drug reviewed by EMA as COVID treatment
July 19 (Reuters) - Europe's medicines regulator is
evaluating an application to use an arthritis drug developed by
Sweden's Sobi to treat COVID-19 in adults with
pneumonia who are at risk of severe respiratory failure, the
agency said on Monday.
The rheumatoid arthritis drug, Kineret, is the latest
possible COVID-19 treatment to be reviewed by the European
Medicines Agency (EMA) as the more infectious Delta variant of
the coronavirus spurs an increase in cases.
Gilead's remdesivir is the only drug currently
authorised for COVID-19 treatment in the European Union.
Kineret and its active substance anakinra reduce the
activity of the immune system and a chemical messenger in the
immune process that causes inflammation.
"It is thought that this could also help reduce the
inflammation and tissue damage associated with COVID-19," the
EMA said in a statement.
Kineret is the second rheumatoid arthritis drug to be
reviewed by the EMA for COVID-19 use following U.S.-based
Lilly's application for Olumiant as a treatment for
hospitalised COVID-19 patients receiving oxygen.
A small retrospective study from Italy last year showed that
treatment with anakinra appears to have improved respiratory
symptoms and reduced signs of cytokine storm in nearly
three-quarters of patients with COVID-19, acute respiratory
distress and hyperinflammation.
COVID-19 patients with severe symptoms including pneumonia
are believed to suffer from an overreaction of the immune system
known as cytokine storm.
The regulator said on Monday it will assess data including
results from two ongoing clinical studies investigating the
safety and efficacy of Kineret in patients hospitalised with
COVID-19. It expects the outcome of the evaluation in October.
Other treatments under rolling review in the EU include
antibodies or antibody cocktails developed by Lilly, Celltrion
and Regeneron, and one jointly developed by
GlaxoSmithKline and Vir Biotechnology.
The regulator has backed the use of some of the therapies
while the rolling review, aimed to speed up the process of
approval by allowing researchers to submit findings in real
time, is still ongoing.
(Reporting by Yadarisa Shabong in Bengaluru; Editing by
Shailesh Kuber, Uttaresh.V, Kirsten Donovan)