Women taking diabetes drug found to have decreased COVID-19 death risk

December 10, 2020

Researchers have previously stated that patients with obesity and type 2 diabetes are at an increased risk of severe COVID-19 and death from the illness. They demonstrate how accumulation of visceral fat around patients’ organs can lead to increased secretion of inflammatory substances such as interleukin-6 (IL-6), tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), and D-dimer, which may be associated with severe COVID-19. In addition, the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 is present in lower levels in people with obesity and type 2 diabetes.

However, a relatively inexpensive drug, metformin, has been found to elevate anti-inflammatory IL-10 levels while decreasing the inflammatory markers IL-6 and TNF-α in patients with or without diabetes, specifically in women patients. Patients taking metformin also have decreased COVID-19 mortality rates.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota Medical School in Minneapolis, and United Health Group (UHG) in Miami, report a significant association between metformin use and decreased mortality in women according to an analysis of the UHG’s Clinical Discovery Claims Database.

The UHG database contains enrollment records, medical claims, laboratory results, and pharmacy claims for individuals of diverse ages, races, and ethnicities who had been admitted to hospitals with COVID-19 throughout the 50 US states.

Researchers sifted through the claims data of some 6,256 individuals, and separated them into metformin and non-metformin groups. In all, 20.2% of those in the non-metformin group died of COVID-19, compared with 16.9% of the metformin group. The researchers also noticed a 21–24% reduction in mortality among women who had filled a metformin prescription before hospitalisation; compared to women who had not (These women had been diagnosed with obesity or type 2 diabetes.)

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Category: Features, Pharmaceuticals

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