Chugai soars after UK says drug reduces hospital time for Covid sufferers

The Chugai Pharmaceutical Co. company logo will be displayed on Monday, August 18, 2014 at the headquarters of Chugai Pharma Manufacturing Co. in Tokyo, Japan.

Kiyoshi Ota | Bloomberg via Getty Images

SINGAPORE – Shares in Japanese drug maker Chugai Pharmaceutical rose sharply in trading Tuesday after the UK government found the drug tocilizumab was effective in reducing the risk of death and hospital stay for Covid patients.

In trading on Tuesday morning, Chugai’s shares rose 16.26%. The stock has since trimmed some of those gains, but is still trading 7% higher. Tuesday was the first trading day of the week for Chugai shares as Japanese markets were closed on Monday for a holiday.

In a press release on Thursday, the UK said the results of a government-funded clinical trial showed that tocilizumab was among two drugs that “reduced the relative risk of death by 24% when given to patients within 24 hours of entering the intensive care unit was administered “.

The press release also states that patients who received the drugs typically used to treat rheumatoid arthritis “left the intensive care unit an average of 7 to 10 days earlier”.

UK Health and Welfare Secretary Matt Hancock said the results were “another milestone in finding a way out of this pandemic”.

The government also said it will start promoting tocilizumab use in patients admitted to the intensive care unit. NHS will also be working with manufacturer Roche to ensure treatment remains available to UK patients.

Tocilizumab, marketed as Actemra or RoActemra, is part of a joint development between Roche and Chugai. Roche is also the majority shareholder in Chugai.

Last week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson put England on hold to contain a variant of Covid-19 that is more contagious than previous strains.

Coronavirus infection rates continue to rise in many parts of the world even as countries start introducing vaccinations. As a result, some governments have reintroduced social distancing restrictions.

To date, the disease has infected at least 90.8 million people and killed more than 1.9 million people worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University.

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