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Phenytoin for COVID-19

Phenytoin has been reported as potentially beneficial for treatment of COVID-19. We have not reviewed these studies. See all other treatments.
Taquet et al., Exposure to phenytoin associates with a lower risk of post-COVID cognitive deficits: a cohort study, Brain Communications, doi:10.1093/braincomms/fcac206
Abstract Post-COVID cognitive deficits (often referred to as ‘brain fog’) are common and have large impacts on patients’ level of functioning. No specific intervention exists to mitigate this burden. This study tested the hypothesis, inspired by recent experimental research, that post-COVID cognitive deficits can be prevented by inhibiting receptor-interacting protein kinase (RIPK). Using electronic health record data, we compared the cognitive outcomes of propensity score-matched cohorts of patients with epilepsy taking phenytoin (a commonly used RIPK inhibitor) vs. valproate or levetiracetam at the time of COVID-19 diagnosis. Patients taking phenytoin at the time of COVID-19 were at a significantly lower risk of cognitive deficits in the six months after COVID-19 infection than a matched cohort of patients receiving levetiracetam (hazard ratio 0.78, 95% CI 0.63-0.97, p = 0.024) or valproate (hazard ratio 0.73, 95% CI 0.58-0.93, p = 0.011). In secondary analyses, results were robust when controlling for subtype of epilepsy, and showed specificity to cognitive deficits in that similar associations were not seen with other ‘long-COVID’ outcomes such as persistent breathlessness or pain. These findings provide pharmacoepidemiological support for the hypothesis that RIPK signaling is involved in post-COVID cognitive deficits. These results should prompt empirical investigations of RIPK inhibitors in the prevention of post-COVID cognitive deficits.
Sperry et al., Target-agnostic drug prediction integrated with medical record analysis uncovers differential associations of statins with increased survival in COVID-19 patients, PLOS Computational Biology, doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1011050 (Table 2)
Drug repurposing requires distinguishing established drug class targets from novel molecule-specific mechanisms and rapidly derisking their therapeutic potential in a time-critical manner, particularly in a pandemic scenario. In response to the challenge to rapidly identify treatment options for COVID-19, several studies reported that statins, as a drug class, reduce mortality in these patients. However, it is unknown if different statins exhibit consistent function or may have varying therapeutic benefit. A Bayesian network tool was used to predict drugs that shift the host transcriptomic response to SARS-CoV-2 infection towards a healthy state. Drugs were predicted using 14 RNA-sequencing datasets from 72 autopsy tissues and 465 COVID-19 patient samples or from cultured human cells and organoids infected with SARS-CoV-2. Top drug predictions included statins, which were then assessed using electronic medical records containing over 4,000 COVID-19 patients on statins to determine mortality risk in patients prescribed specific statins versus untreated matched controls. The same drugs were tested in Vero E6 cells infected with SARS-CoV-2 and human endothelial cells infected with a related OC43 coronavirus. Simvastatin was among the most highly predicted compounds (14/14 datasets) and five other statins, including atorvastatin, were predicted to be active in > 50% of analyses. Analysis of the clinical database revealed that reduced mortality risk was only observed in COVID-19 patients prescribed a subset of statins, including simvastatin and atorvastatin. In vitro testing of SARS-CoV-2 infected cells revealed simvastatin to be a potent direct inhibitor whereas most other statins were less effective. Simvastatin also inhibited OC43 infection and reduced cytokine production in endothelial cells. Statins may differ in their ability to sustain the lives of COVID-19 patients despite having a shared drug target and lipid-modifying mechanism of action. These findings highlight the value of target-agnostic drug prediction coupled with patient databases to identify and clinically evaluate non-obvious mechanisms and derisk and accelerate drug repurposing opportunities.
MacFadden et al., Screening Large Population Health Databases for Potential COVID-19 Therapeutics: A Pharmacopeia-Wide Association Study (PWAS) of Commonly Prescribed Medications, Open Forum Infectious Diseases, doi:10.1093/ofid/ofac156
Abstract Background For both the current and future pandemics, there is a need for high-throughput drug screening methods to identify existing drugs with potential preventative and/or therapeutic activity. Epidemiologic studies could complement lab-focused efforts to identify possible therapeutic agents. Methods We performed a pharmacopeia-wide association study (PWAS) to identify commonly prescribed medications and medication classes that are associated with the detection of SARS-CoV-2 in older individuals (>65 years) in long-term care homes (LTCH) and the community, between January 15 th, 2020 and December 31 st, 2020, across the province of Ontario, Canada. Results 26,121 cases and 2,369,020 controls from LTCH and the community were included in this analysis. Many of the drugs and drug classes evaluated did not yield significant associations with SARS-CoV-2 detection. However, some drugs and drug classes appeared significantly associated with reduced SARS-CoV-2 detection, including cardioprotective drug classes such as statins (weighted OR 0.91, standard p-value <0.01, adjusted p-value <0.01) and beta-blockers (weighted OR 0.87, standard p-value <0.01, adjusted p-value 0.01), along with individual agents ranging from levetiracetam (weighted OR 0.70, standard p-value <0.01, adjusted p-value <0.01) to fluoxetine (weighted OR 0.86, standard p-value 0.013, adjusted p-value 0.198) to digoxin (weighted OR 0.89, standard p-value <0.01, adjusted p-value 0.02). Conclusions Using this epidemiologic approach which can be applied to current and future pandemics we have identified a variety of target drugs and drug classes that could offer therapeutic benefit in COVID-19 and may warrant further validation. Some of these agents (e.g. fluoxetine) have already been identified for their therapeutic potential.
Please send us corrections, updates, or comments. c19early involves the extraction of 100,000+ datapoints from thousands of papers. Community updates help ensure high accuracy. Vaccines and treatments are complementary. All practical, effective, and safe means should be used based on risk/benefit analysis. No treatment, vaccine, or intervention is 100% available and effective for all current and future variants. We do not provide medical advice. Before taking any medication, consult a qualified physician who can provide personalized advice and details of risks and benefits based on your medical history and situation. FLCCC and WCH provide treatment protocols.
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