Nairobi — Pharmaceutical firm Roche on Tuesday announced the enrollment of Kenyan patients on a clinical trial to evaluate the efficacy of tocilizumab drug for coronavirus-related pneumonia.

The EMPACTA clinical trial at the Clinical Research Unit of the Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi (AKUH, N), is currently on a global Phase III clinical trial.

The clinical trial is a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled and multicenter study that will evaluate the efficacy and safety of Roche’s medicine Actemra (tocilizumab) in the treatment of COVID-19 associated hospitalized pneumonia.

Both public and private sector patients in Kenya were eligible to participate in the trial if they met the study criteria which is being run at the Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi.

“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 holds the global community back, and Roche Kenya is proud to help close this gap.”

“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.