Roche test receives FDA emergency use approval for COVID-19 patients

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Swiss drugmaker Roche is seen at its headquarters in Basel, Switzerland February 1, 2018. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

ZURICH (Reuters) - Drugmaker Roche has received emergency use authorisation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its Elecsys IL-6 test to help identify severe inflammatory response in patients with confirmed COVID-19, it said on Thursday.

The test can be used to help identify coronavirus patients who could be at high risk of intubation with mechanical ventilation, helping doctors decide early on if ventilation could be required, Roche said.

Roche is testing its arthritis drug Actemra in patients with coronavirus-linked pneumonia, joining other pharmaceutical companies seeking to re-purpose existing medicines to fight the epidemic.

It also plans to test if mixing anti-inflammation drug Actemra with Gilead Sciences Inc’s anti-viral treatment remdesivir works better against severe COVID-19 pneumonia than remdesivir alone.

The Elecsys IL-6 test would identify patients who could be eligible for Actemra, whose sales rose about 30% in the first quarter due largely to the new coronavirus.

Reporting by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi and John Miller; Editing by Michael Shields