University of Oxford to test AbbVie's Humira as COVID-19 treatment

Researchers at the University of Oxford will begin studying AbbVie's drug, Humira, as a potential treatment for COVID-19 patients, the university announced Sept. 30. 

The trial will enroll up to 750 people from nursing home settings in the U.K. The university said nursing home patients were particularly hard hit by COVID-19 there and in other countries. In the U.S., 40 percent of nationwide deaths have been from nursing homes. 

"We have seen lots of examples, earlier in the COVID pandemic, of older people in care homes being disadvantaged regarding access to treatments simply because of where they live. This study is an exciting opportunity to open up promising treatments to this most vulnerable, and underserved, group of people," said Adam Gordon, PhD, professor of care of older people at the University of Nottingham in England. 

Humira is a rheumatoid arthritis drug and is the top-selling drug in the U.S. by nondiscounted spending, according to the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science. The drug brought AbbVie $14.8 billion in U.S. sales in 2019. 

Humira is a type of drug called an anti-tumor necrosis factor, or anti-TNF. Recent studies have shown that COVID-19 patients taking anti-TNF drugs are less likely to be hospitalized, the university said. 

The trial, which is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator, will study if Humira reduces the progression of COVID-19 to severe or critical and if it reduces the death rate. 

Read the university's full news release here.

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