In recent days, the WHO (World Health Organisation) has recommended for use against COVID-19, a drug that is often used to treat arthritis. The WHO
In recent days, the WHO (World Health Organisation) has recommended for use against COVID-19, a drug that is often used to treat arthritis. The WHO strongly recommends the use of a drug known as baricitinib. Doctors hope to be able to use this drug against COVID-19. It is recommended that baricitinib is used in conjunction with corticosteroids.
The reason for the drugs being used in this combination is to calm the body’s immune response.
While this may sound counterproductive, it is sometimes the body’s immune response that causes people to become severely ill or die from COVID-19.
It is all because of something known as a cytokine storm.
Although this sounds like a phrase out of a science fiction film, it is a term to describe the body’s immune system going into overdrive.
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Cytokines are a form of protein and a cytokine storm is when the body releases too many of them.
Doctors believe, and can show from clinical trials, that a combination of baricitinib and corticosteroids can calm down this release of cytokines.
Just because one arthritis drug works for treating COVID-19, does not mean others will.
Medical professionals have warned against using interleukin-6 inhibitors, another form of arthritis treatment, at the same time as baricitinib.
It isn’t that interleukin doesn’t work, it’s simply that it doesn’t work as well when administered alongside baricitinib.
Doctors have been advised to choose between the two based on cost, availability, and experience.
Baricitinib is considered a positive addition to the roster of treatments, not just because of its effectiveness, but because it is cost effective.
Away from COVID-19, baricitinib remains useful in the alleviation of symptoms resulting from arthritis.
Osteoarthritis can be caused by injuries or other joint related conditions, causing pain and inflammation.
Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the joints.
Other types of arthritis include anklyosing spondylitis, cervical spondylosis, fibromyalgia, lupus, gout, psoriatic arthritis, enteropathic arthritis, reactive arthritis, secondary arthritis and polymyalgia rheumatica.
For more information on arthritis, consult your GP or the NHS.