ZURICH (Reuters) – Roche will test its arthritis drug Actemra in patients with coronavirus-linked pneumonia, the Swiss drugmaker said on Thursday, joining other pharmaceutical companies seeking to re-purpose existing medicines to fight the epidemic.

Roche’s trial, targeting 330 patients globally and due to start in early April, follows similar efforts by China in trying out the decade old anti-inflammation drug to help patients whose bodies are having a severe reaction after infection with the virus.

Sanofi and Regeneron are also testing an arthritis medicine, Kevzara, that works similarly to Actemra after data from China suggested it may help patients suffering from an overactive inflammatory response in the lungs.

(Reporting by John Miller, editing by John Revill)