Recent research published in the journal, The Lancet suggests that Glucophage, a brand name version of the diabetes drug metformin, may help lower the risk of mortality from COVID-19 due to its anti-inflammatory effects.
Never mind the fact that a previous report shows that metformin may contain a cancer-causing contaminant called NDMA. When it comes to the coronavirus, we’ll take good news when it comes. Especially when a population—people living with type 2 diabetes—is more at risk for developing severe Covid symptoms.
The study was conducted by University of Minnesota Medical School researchers in collaboration with Miami, FL-based UnitedHealth Group (UHG). In previous research studies, the researchers had determined that metformin reduced inflammation to a greater extent in women than in men.
According to MedicalNewsToday.com, which summarized the research, the study was a retrospective analysis of claims data from January 1 through June 7, 2020, which includes pharmacy claims for individuals of diverse ages, races, and ethnicities who had been admitted to hospitals with COVID-19 throughout the 50 states. Subjects included in the study were 18 years or older, had a diagnosis of obesity or type 2 diabetes, and had been admitted to a hospital for COVID-19.
Over 2,300 people were in the metformin group, which had an average age of 73 years, and were approximately 48% were female, and nearly all took metformin. In the hospitalized metformin group, there was a 16.9% mortality rate from COVID-19, compared with over 20% for the non-metformin group.
A decrease of three percent may not seem like a significant difference in mortality. However, keep in mind that the metformin group consisted of 52% men. Remove the men and among women with type 2 diabetes or obesity who took metformin before being hospitalized, there was a 21–24% reduction in mortality from the disease caused by the SARS-COv-2 virus.
Despite the promising news for women who take metformin, MedicalNewsToday.com says retroactive studies aren’t the gold standard of research studies. For example, the study did not include information about adherence to metformin treatment or dosage. Although the study isn’t conclusive by any means, it’s encouraging that a relatively-inexpensive medication that 120 million people around the world take may help prevent deaths caused by the novel coronavirus–provided it doesn’t cause cancer.