New study of diabetes drug for COVID-19 raises eyebrows


DARE-19 design: Several outcomes will be examined

The DARE-19 trial is designed to enroll 900 adults with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection and oxygen saturation of 94% or greater.

Inclusion criteria include a medical history of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, heart failure, and/or stage 3-4 CKD. Exclusion criteria include current SGLT2 inhibitor treatment, type 1 diabetes, severe CKD, and severe COVID-19.

Dapagliflozin is approved in the EU for use in some patients with type 1 diabetes; this is not the case in the United States, although SGLT2 inhibitors in general are sometimes used off label in these patients.

Patients in DARE-19 will be randomized to 10 mg/day dapagliflozin or placebo for 30 days, in addition to standard care, in participating hospital. Primary outcomes are time to first occurrence of either death or new or worsened organ dysfunction, including respiratory decompensation, new or worsening heart failure, requirement for vasopressor therapy, ventricular tachycardia, and renal failure.

Secondary outcomes include a composite of time to death from any cause, time to new/worsened organ dysfunction, clinical status at day 30, and time to hospital discharge.

Rationale for the study

Irl B. Hirsch, MD, professor and diabetes treatment and teaching chair at the University of Washington, Seattle, said in an interview that he does see some logic to the trial.

Admitting that he doesn’t know much about “COVID-19 cardiomyopathy” – which would be one of the targets of dapagliflozin – other than it is quite common, he said that this, along with the potential renal benefits of dapagliflozin in the setting of COVID-19, make the study “intriguing.”

“Perhaps there is some rationale to it,” he said. However, “my concern is these sick COVID-19 patients are often acidemic, and besides the very complex acid-base challenges we see with intubated patients, these patients likely have combination lactic and ketoacidemia, the latter at least some from starvation.

“Still, if enough dextrose and insulin are provided to prevent ketoacid accumulation, my guess is it would do at least as well as hydroxychloroquine,” he said.

And Simon Heller, MD, professor of clinical diabetes at the University of Sheffield (England), said in an interview: “I think it is quite a brave study, mainly because of the increased risk of DKA.

“However, on the basis that these patients will be carefully monitored, the risk of DKA shouldn’t be great. I think it is important that patients with type 2 diabetes can participate whenever possible in such trials,” he said.

The estimated completion date for DARE-19 is December 2020.

Dr. Kosiborod has reported receiving grant support, honoraria, and/or research support from AstraZeneca, Boehringer Ingelheim, Sanofi, Amgen, Novo Nordisk, Merck, Eisai, Janssen, Bayer, GlaxoSmithKline, Glytec, Intarcia Therapeutics, Novartis, Applied Therapeutics, Amarin, and Eli Lilly. Dr. Leslie has reported owning stock in Bristol-Myers Squibb, Pfizer, and Lilly. Dr. Hirsch has reported consulting for Abbott Diabetes Care, Roche, and Bigfoot Biomedical, conducting research for Medtronic, and is a diabetes editor for UpToDate. Dr. Heller has received advisory or consultation fees from Lilly, Novo Nordisk, Takeda, MSD, and Becton Dickinson; has served as a speaker for AstraZeneca, Lilly, Novo Nordisk, Boehringer Ingelheim, and Takeda; and has received research support from Medtronic UK. He is on the advisory board for Medscape. Dr. Kar has reported no relevant financial relationships.

A version of this article originally appeared on Medscape.com.


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