Kenyan patients take part in clinical trial for potential treatment for COVID-19 associated pneumonia
Published on: July 21, 2020 11:34 (EAT)
Roche Kenya Ltd has announced that patients in Kenya have enrolled in its EMPACTA clinical trial at the Clinical Research Unit of the Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi. The EMPACTA study is a global Phase III clinical trial. It is a randomized, double-blind, placebocontrolled and multicenter study that will evaluate the efficacy and safety of Roche’s medicine Actemra (tocilizumab) in the treatment of COVID-19 associated 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.” Health CAS Rashid Aman said the Ministry remains committed to providing the highest standard of health to all Kenyans and supporting the exploration of new therapeutic solutions. According to him, this could not be more important and timely than this period of the COVID 19 pandemic. “In this regard the Ministry is supporting and participating in several global clinical trials aimed at discoveries of therapeutic agents and vaccines against Covid-19,” he said. He added that this is why the Ministry lends its support to the global trial on the use of tocilizumab in COVID-19 patients with moderate disease (EMPACTA trial) being conducted at the Aga Khan University Hospital here in Kenya as one of the study sites. “We commend our private sector partners the Aga Khan University Hospital and Roche Kenya in bringing this study to Kenya,” Dr. Aman said. He further noted that the merit of this ongoing trial has recently been validated by the recent finding by a team of clinical researchers at the University of Michigan that demonstrated that in a controlled study of 154 patients with severe COVID-19 illness requiring mechanical ventilation, tocilizumab was associated with a 45% reduction in the hazard of death, despite twice the frequency of superinfection The CAS reitrated that the COVID-19 pandemic can only be overcome through a multi-sectoral, multi-stakeholder engagement that brings together academia, research, government and the private sector. “The Ministry of Health remains committed to the advancement of relevant, inclusive and ethical research that complies with all national regulations,” Dr. Aman said.