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Comparative efficacy and safety of pharmacological interventions for the treatment of COVID-19: A systematic review and network meta-analysis.
PLoS Med. 2020 12; 17(12):e1003501.PM

Abstract

BACKGROUND

Numerous clinical trials and observational studies have investigated various pharmacological agents as potential treatment for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), but the results are heterogeneous and sometimes even contradictory to one another, making it difficult for clinicians to determine which treatments are truly effective.

METHODS AND FINDINGS

We carried out a systematic review and network meta-analysis (NMA) to systematically evaluate the comparative efficacy and safety of pharmacological interventions and the level of evidence behind each treatment regimen in different clinical settings. Both published and unpublished randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and confounding-adjusted observational studies which met our predefined eligibility criteria were collected. We included studies investigating the effect of pharmacological management of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 management. Mild patients who do not require hospitalization or have self-limiting disease courses were not eligible for our NMA. A total of 110 studies (40 RCTs and 70 observational studies) were included. PubMed, Google Scholar, MEDLINE, the Cochrane Library, medRxiv, SSRN, WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform, and ClinicalTrials.gov were searched from the beginning of 2020 to August 24, 2020. Studies from Asia (41 countries, 37.2%), Europe (28 countries, 25.4%), North America (24 countries, 21.8%), South America (5 countries, 4.5%), and Middle East (6 countries, 5.4%), and additional 6 multinational studies (5.4%) were included in our analyses. The outcomes of interest were mortality, progression to severe disease (severe pneumonia, admission to intensive care unit (ICU), and/or mechanical ventilation), viral clearance rate, QT prolongation, fatal cardiac complications, and noncardiac serious adverse events. Based on RCTs, the risk of progression to severe course and mortality was significantly reduced with corticosteroids (odds ratio (OR) 0.23, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.06 to 0.86, p = 0.032, and OR 0.78, 95% CI 0.66 to 0.91, p = 0.002, respectively) and remdesivir (OR 0.29, 95% CI 0.17 to 0.50, p < 0.001, and OR 0.62, 95% CI 0.39 to 0.98, p = 0.041, respectively) compared to standard care for moderate to severe COVID-19 patients in non-ICU; corticosteroids were also shown to reduce mortality rate (OR 0.54, 95% CI 0.40 to 0.73, p < 0.001) for critically ill patients in ICU. In analyses including observational studies, interferon-alpha (OR 0.05, 95% CI 0.01 to 0.39, p = 0.004), itolizumab (OR 0.10, 95% CI 0.01 to 0.92, p = 0.042), sofosbuvir plus daclatasvir (OR 0.26, 95% CI 0.07 to 0.88, p = 0.030), anakinra (OR 0.30, 95% CI 0.11 to 0.82, p = 0.019), tocilizumab (OR 0.43, 95% CI 0.30 to 0.60, p < 0.001), and convalescent plasma (OR 0.48, 95% CI 0.24 to 0.96, p = 0.038) were associated with reduced mortality rate in non-ICU setting, while high-dose intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) (OR 0.13, 95% CI 0.03 to 0.49, p = 0.003), ivermectin (OR 0.15, 95% CI 0.04 to 0.57, p = 0.005), and tocilizumab (OR 0.62, 95% CI 0.42 to 0.90, p = 0.012) were associated with reduced mortality rate in critically ill patients. Convalescent plasma was the only treatment option that was associated with improved viral clearance rate at 2 weeks compared to standard care (OR 11.39, 95% CI 3.91 to 33.18, p < 0.001). The combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin was shown to be associated with increased QT prolongation incidence (OR 2.01, 95% CI 1.26 to 3.20, p = 0.003) and fatal cardiac complications in cardiac-impaired populations (OR 2.23, 95% CI 1.24 to 4.00, p = 0.007). No drug was significantly associated with increased noncardiac serious adverse events compared to standard care. The quality of evidence of collective outcomes were estimated using the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation (GRADE) framework. The major limitation of the present study is the overall low level of evidence that reduces the certainty of recommendations. Besides, the risk of bias (RoB) measured by RoB2 and ROBINS-I framework for individual studies was generally low to moderate. The outcomes deducted from observational studies could not infer causality and can only imply associations. The study protocol is publicly available on PROSPERO (CRD42020186527).

CONCLUSIONS

In this NMA, we found that anti-inflammatory agents (corticosteroids, tocilizumab, anakinra, and IVIG), convalescent plasma, and remdesivir were associated with improved outcomes of hospitalized COVID-19 patients. Hydroxychloroquine did not provide clinical benefits while posing cardiac safety risks when combined with azithromycin, especially in the vulnerable population. Only 29% of current evidence on pharmacological management of COVID-19 is supported by moderate or high certainty and can be translated to practice and policy; the remaining 71% are of low or very low certainty and warrant further studies to establish firm conclusions.

Authors+Show Affiliations

Korea University, College of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea. Cheongsan Public Health Center, Wando, Republic of Korea.Ajou University, School of Medicine, Suwon, Republic of Korea. So Ahn Public Health Center, Wando, Republic of Korea.Korea University, College of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea. Gangneung Prison Medical Department, Ministry of Justice, Republic of Korea.Department of Pharmacology, Pusan National University, School of Medicine, Yangsan, Republic of Korea. Gene and Cell Therapy Research Center for Vessel-associated Diseases, School of Medicine, Pusan National University, Yangsan, Republic of Korea.

Pub Type(s)

Journal Article
Meta-Analysis
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
Systematic Review

Language

eng

PubMed ID

33378357

Citation

Kim, Min Seo, et al. "Comparative Efficacy and Safety of Pharmacological Interventions for the Treatment of COVID-19: a Systematic Review and Network Meta-analysis." PLoS Medicine, vol. 17, no. 12, 2020, pp. e1003501.
Kim MS, An MH, Kim WJ, et al. Comparative efficacy and safety of pharmacological interventions for the treatment of COVID-19: A systematic review and network meta-analysis. PLoS Med. 2020;17(12):e1003501.
Kim, M. S., An, M. H., Kim, W. J., & Hwang, T. H. (2020). Comparative efficacy and safety of pharmacological interventions for the treatment of COVID-19: A systematic review and network meta-analysis. PLoS Medicine, 17(12), e1003501. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1003501
Kim MS, et al. Comparative Efficacy and Safety of Pharmacological Interventions for the Treatment of COVID-19: a Systematic Review and Network Meta-analysis. PLoS Med. 2020;17(12):e1003501. PubMed PMID: 33378357.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - Comparative efficacy and safety of pharmacological interventions for the treatment of COVID-19: A systematic review and network meta-analysis. AU - Kim,Min Seo, AU - An,Min Ho, AU - Kim,Won Jun, AU - Hwang,Tae-Ho, Y1 - 2020/12/30/ PY - 2020/07/01/received PY - 2020/12/10/accepted PY - 2021/01/08/revised PY - 2020/12/31/pubmed PY - 2021/1/16/medline PY - 2020/12/30/entrez SP - e1003501 EP - e1003501 JF - PLoS medicine JO - PLoS Med VL - 17 IS - 12 N2 - BACKGROUND: Numerous clinical trials and observational studies have investigated various pharmacological agents as potential treatment for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), but the results are heterogeneous and sometimes even contradictory to one another, making it difficult for clinicians to determine which treatments are truly effective. METHODS AND FINDINGS: We carried out a systematic review and network meta-analysis (NMA) to systematically evaluate the comparative efficacy and safety of pharmacological interventions and the level of evidence behind each treatment regimen in different clinical settings. Both published and unpublished randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and confounding-adjusted observational studies which met our predefined eligibility criteria were collected. We included studies investigating the effect of pharmacological management of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 management. Mild patients who do not require hospitalization or have self-limiting disease courses were not eligible for our NMA. A total of 110 studies (40 RCTs and 70 observational studies) were included. PubMed, Google Scholar, MEDLINE, the Cochrane Library, medRxiv, SSRN, WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform, and ClinicalTrials.gov were searched from the beginning of 2020 to August 24, 2020. Studies from Asia (41 countries, 37.2%), Europe (28 countries, 25.4%), North America (24 countries, 21.8%), South America (5 countries, 4.5%), and Middle East (6 countries, 5.4%), and additional 6 multinational studies (5.4%) were included in our analyses. The outcomes of interest were mortality, progression to severe disease (severe pneumonia, admission to intensive care unit (ICU), and/or mechanical ventilation), viral clearance rate, QT prolongation, fatal cardiac complications, and noncardiac serious adverse events. Based on RCTs, the risk of progression to severe course and mortality was significantly reduced with corticosteroids (odds ratio (OR) 0.23, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.06 to 0.86, p = 0.032, and OR 0.78, 95% CI 0.66 to 0.91, p = 0.002, respectively) and remdesivir (OR 0.29, 95% CI 0.17 to 0.50, p < 0.001, and OR 0.62, 95% CI 0.39 to 0.98, p = 0.041, respectively) compared to standard care for moderate to severe COVID-19 patients in non-ICU; corticosteroids were also shown to reduce mortality rate (OR 0.54, 95% CI 0.40 to 0.73, p < 0.001) for critically ill patients in ICU. In analyses including observational studies, interferon-alpha (OR 0.05, 95% CI 0.01 to 0.39, p = 0.004), itolizumab (OR 0.10, 95% CI 0.01 to 0.92, p = 0.042), sofosbuvir plus daclatasvir (OR 0.26, 95% CI 0.07 to 0.88, p = 0.030), anakinra (OR 0.30, 95% CI 0.11 to 0.82, p = 0.019), tocilizumab (OR 0.43, 95% CI 0.30 to 0.60, p < 0.001), and convalescent plasma (OR 0.48, 95% CI 0.24 to 0.96, p = 0.038) were associated with reduced mortality rate in non-ICU setting, while high-dose intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) (OR 0.13, 95% CI 0.03 to 0.49, p = 0.003), ivermectin (OR 0.15, 95% CI 0.04 to 0.57, p = 0.005), and tocilizumab (OR 0.62, 95% CI 0.42 to 0.90, p = 0.012) were associated with reduced mortality rate in critically ill patients. Convalescent plasma was the only treatment option that was associated with improved viral clearance rate at 2 weeks compared to standard care (OR 11.39, 95% CI 3.91 to 33.18, p < 0.001). The combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin was shown to be associated with increased QT prolongation incidence (OR 2.01, 95% CI 1.26 to 3.20, p = 0.003) and fatal cardiac complications in cardiac-impaired populations (OR 2.23, 95% CI 1.24 to 4.00, p = 0.007). No drug was significantly associated with increased noncardiac serious adverse events compared to standard care. The quality of evidence of collective outcomes were estimated using the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation (GRADE) framework. The major limitation of the present study is the overall low level of evidence that reduces the certainty of recommendations. Besides, the risk of bias (RoB) measured by RoB2 and ROBINS-I framework for individual studies was generally low to moderate. The outcomes deducted from observational studies could not infer causality and can only imply associations. The study protocol is publicly available on PROSPERO (CRD42020186527). CONCLUSIONS: In this NMA, we found that anti-inflammatory agents (corticosteroids, tocilizumab, anakinra, and IVIG), convalescent plasma, and remdesivir were associated with improved outcomes of hospitalized COVID-19 patients. Hydroxychloroquine did not provide clinical benefits while posing cardiac safety risks when combined with azithromycin, especially in the vulnerable population. Only 29% of current evidence on pharmacological management of COVID-19 is supported by moderate or high certainty and can be translated to practice and policy; the remaining 71% are of low or very low certainty and warrant further studies to establish firm conclusions. SN - 1549-1676 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/33378357/Comparative_efficacy_and_safety_of_pharmacological_interventions_for_the_treatment_of_COVID_19:_A_systematic_review_and_network_meta_analysis_ L2 - https://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1003501 DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -