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.
“This is where we contribute knowledge and experience about our capability and the outcome of our patients to the international community.”
Roche also expressed commitment to partnering with Kenyan Ministry of Health, healthcare providers, laboratories, authorities and organisations to help fight COVID-19. Roche’s response in Kenya focuses on three pillars: science, supply and support.
Roche Diagnostics rapidly developed two high quality tests for COVID-19, first detecting if someone currently has COVID-19 while the second is a highly reliable qualitative COVID-19 antibody test that can help assess how a body’s immune system is responding to the virus.
Roche Pharmaceuticals is actively assessing the potential of its existing portfolio to find answers. The company is conducting several phase III clinical studies, including EMPACTA, to evaluate the safety and efficacy of one of its medicines, Actemra to help find answers that patients and medical teams need.
Globally, Roche is working to develop, manufacture and supply its key tests where they are needed most.
Roche is accelerating global manufacturing of medicines and tests and is optimizing the use of equipment that already exists in African laboratories to help increase the number of tests that can be performed in each country.
Roche is also supporting East African communities with on-the-ground actions, partnering closely with organisations to keep medical workers safe and provide better access to care.
The support includes donations of PPE to those on the COVID-19 frontline in public hospitals and financial support to governments and UN agencies taking care of the fragile and conflict affected communities.