In this Nov. 5, 2020, file photo, medical staff attending to patients with COVID-19 wear protective equipment in a unit dedicated to treatment of the coronavirus at UW Health in Madison, Wis. Credit: John Hart / Wisconsin State Journal via AP

WASHINGTON — U.S. health officials have granted emergency use for another antibody-drug to help hospitalized patients with the most dangerous cases of COVID-19.

The Food and Drug Administration said late Thursday it authorized the drug Actemra from Roche for hospitalized patients who are already receiving steroid drugs, oxygen and other measures to fight COVID-19.

When added to those treatments, studies showed Roche’s drug reduced the risk of death and cut hospitalization time.

Actemra does not target the coronavirus directly but instead helps reduce inflammation, a driver of the disease. It is already approved for rheumatoid arthritis and several other diseases.

The FDA has cleared several antibody drugs for COVID-19 but there has been low demand because of the hurdles of delivering them via IV at hospitals or clinics.

Health officials have emphasized the need to develop more pill-based drugs for COVID-19.