Conference Coverage

Dapagliflozin misses as treatment for COVID-19 but leaves intriguing signal for benefit



In patients hospitalized with COVID-19 infection, the sodium-glucose transporter 2 inhibitor dapagliflozin showed a trend for benefit relative to placebo on multiple outcomes, including the primary outcome of time to organ failure or death, according to results from the randomized DARE-19 trial.

Dr. Mikhail Kosiborod, director of cardiometabolic research at Saint Luke’s Mid-America Heart Institute, Kansas City, Mo.

Dr. Mikhail Kosiborod

Because of the failure to reach statistical significance, these results have no immediate relevance, but the trends support interest in further testing SGLT2 inhibitors in acute diseases posing a high risk for organ failure, according to Mikhail Kosiborod, MD.

In a trial that did not meet its primary endpoint, Dr. Kosiborod acknowledged that positive interpretations are speculative, but he does believe that there is one immediate take-home message.

“Our results do not support discontinuation of SGLT2 inhibitors in the setting of COVID-19 as long as patients are monitored,” said Dr. Kosiborod, director of cardiometabolic research at Saint Luke’s Mid-America Heart Institute, Kansas City, Mo.

At many institutions, it has been common to discontinue SGLT2 inhibitors in patients admitted with COVID-19. One reason was the concern that drugs in this class could exacerbate organ damage, particularly if they were to induced ketoacidosis. However, only 2 (0.003%) of 613 patients treated with dapagliflozin developed ketoacidosis, and the signal for organ protection overall, although not significant, was consistent.

“Numerically, fewer patients treated with dapagliflozin experienced organ failure and death, and this was consistent across systems, including the kidney,” Dr. Kosiborod said in presenting the study at the annual scientific sessions of the American College of Cardiology.

Overall, the study suggests that, in the context of COVID-19, dapagliflozin did not show harm and might have potential benefit, he added.

DARE-19 was rapidly conceived, designed, and implemented during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on prior evidence that SGLT2 inhibitors “favorably affect a number of pathophysiologic pathways disrupted during acute illness” and that drugs in this class have provided organ protection in the context of heart failure, chronic kidney disease, and other cardiometabolic conditions, the study was designed to test the hypothesis that this mechanism might improve outcomes in patients hospitalized with COVID-19, Dr. Kosiborod said.

The entry criteria included confirmed or suspected COVID-19 with an onset of 4 days of fewer and one additional risk factor, such as atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, hypertension, or type 2 diabetes. Patients with significant renal impairment or a history of diabetic ketoacidosis were excluded.

On top of standard treatments for COVID-19, patients were randomized to 10 mg dapagliflozin or placebo once daily. There were two primary endpoints. That of prevention was time to criteria for respiratory, cardiovascular, or renal organ failure or death. The second primary outcome, for recovery, was a hierarchical composite for four endpoints: death, organ failure, status at 30 days if hospitalized, and time to discharge if this occurred before day 30.

Of the 1,250 patients randomized at 95 sites in seven countries, 617 in the dapagliflozin group and 620 patients in the placebo group completed the study. Baseline characteristics, which included a mean of age of 62 years; types of comorbidities; and types of treatments were similar.


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