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Meds Used for Hospitalized COVID-19 Patients Shifted Over 2020

Dexamethasone and remdesivir use grew substantially, while azithromycin and hydroxychloroquine both declined from early peaks

blue medical mask with coronavirus text on it surrounded by multicolored pills a stethoscope and a needle and syringe

FRIDAY, May 21, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- In 2020, there were marked shifts in the therapeutics used to treat hospitalized COVID-19 patients, according to a research letter published online May 21 in JAMA Network Open.

Jonathan H. Watanabe, Pharm.D., Ph.D., from the University of California Irvine School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences, and colleagues measured daily and overall use percentages of potential COVID-19 therapeutic options over the course of 2020 for hospitalized patients. The analysis included 22,896 patients with confirmed positive severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 RNA results hospitalized from March 10 through Dec. 31, 2020, at one of five University of California Health medical centers.

The researchers found that dexamethasone use increased from 1.4 percent of diagnosed patients per day on March 31 to 67.5 percent of patients per day on Dec. 31. On March 21, enoxaparin daily usage was 50.4 percent and stayed above this percentage for the remainder of 2020. During the study period, remdesivir use increased more than 12-fold, from 4.9 percent on June 1 to 62.5 percent on Dec. 31. Declines were seen in azithromycin use (45.5 percent on April 1 to 20.0 percent on Aug. 1) and angiotensin-2 converting enzyme inhibitors/angiotensin receptor blockers (from 27.5 percent on March 31 to 18.5 percent on Dec. 31). In early April 2020, more than 40 percent of patients cumulatively had received hydroxychloroquine, but by July, fewer than 10 percent of all patients had received it.

"To our knowledge, this study represents the first analysis of medication utilization for hospitalized patients with COVID-19 in a large, diverse, statewide health system," the authors write.

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