Effective treatments for the critically ill patient with novel coronavirus disease 2019 are desperately needed. Given the role of cytokine release syndrome in the pathogenesis of coronavirus disease 2019-associated respiratory distress, therapies aimed at mitigating cytokine release, such as the interleukin-6 receptor-inhibiting monoclonal antibody tocilizumab, represent potential treatment strategies. Therefore, we examined the outcomes of critically ill coronavirus disease 2019 patients treated with tocilizumab and factors associated with clinical improvement.
Design: A retrospective cohort analysis of 21-day outcomes for consecutive mechanically ventilated patients treated with tocilizumab from March 24, 2020, to May 4, 2020.
Setting: Nine ICUs at six hospitals within a hospital system in Houston, Texas, United States.
Patients: The first 62 coronavirus disease 2019 patients on invasive mechanical ventilation who were treated with tocilizumab, which was considered for all patients with severe disease.
Interventions: Tocilizumab was administered either at a weight-based dose of 4-8 mg/kg or at a flat dose of 400 mg, with repeat administration in some patients at the physician's discretion.
Measurements and Main Results: The primary outcomes were mortality and clinical improvement, defined as extubation. By day 21 post-tocilizumab, clinical improvement occurred in 36 patients (58%) and 13 patients (21%) died. In both univariable and multivariable analyses, age less than 60 years was associated with clinical improvement. Transient transaminitis was the most common adverse reaction, occurring in 25 patients (40%).
Conclusions: Based on clinical outcomes and mortality rates seen in previous reports of mechanically ventilated patients, tocilizumab, as part of the management strategy for severe coronavirus disease 2019, represents a promising option. These findings support the need for evaluation of tocilizumab in a randomized controlled trial.