The largest observational study of COVID-19 — including almost 6,000 individuals — has shown that metformin use was associated with decreased mortality in women, but not in men. The study was carried out by UnitedHealth Group and the University of Minnesota. The research team reviewed patient records of individuals hospitalized with COVID-19 who had type 2 diabetes or obesity, and noted whether or not a 90-day metformin prescription was filled for those individuals before they were hospitalized. The female patients who had been using metformin had a 21% to 24% reduced likelihood of death compared to similar women who had not. There was no significant reduction in mortality among men who had been using the medication. More research is needed to understand this trend.
Metformin is commonly prescribed to treat people with type 2 diabetes, and has a good safety profile, wide availability, and low cost. Given the significant impact that metformin can have on COVID-19 treatment, the Parsemus Foundation has supported the launch of a clinical trial by the research team at the University of Minnesota, led by Dr. Carolyn Bramante and Dr. Christopher Tignanelli. A new drug application to the Food and Drug Administration for use of metformin for COVID-19 treatment and prevention has been approved, and a multi-site, prospective, randomized pilot study will begin enrolling patients during the week of December 8, 2020. This will lead into a larger trial that is fully powered for important clinical outcomes if additional funding becomes available. These collaborators are still seeking this funding.
The full press release is available for more details.