| Springer: Drug Safety | Sep 25, 2020
Sex Differences in Reported Adverse Drug Reactions to COVID-19 Drugs in a Global Database of Individual Case Safety Reports



In late 2019, a new coronavirus—severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)—was discovered in Wuhan, China, and the World Health Organization later declared coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) a pandemic. Numerous drugs have been repurposed and investigated for therapeutic effectiveness in the disease, including those from “Solidarity,” an international clinical trial (azithromycin, chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine, the fixed combination lopinavir/ritonavir, and remdesivir).


Our objective was to evaluate adverse drug reaction (ADR) reporting for drugs when used in the treatment of COVID-19 compared with use for other indications, specifically focussing on sex differences.


We extracted reports on COVID-19-specific treatments from the global ADR database, VigiBase, using an algorithm developed to identify reports that listed COVID-19 as the indication. The Solidarity trial drugs were included, as were any drugs reported ≥ 100 times. We performed a descriptive comparison of reports for the same drugs used in non-COVID-19 indications. The data lock point date was 7 June 2020.


In total, 2573 reports were identified for drugs used in the treatment of COVID-19. In order of frequency, the most reported ADRs were electrocardiogram QT-prolonged, diarrhoea, nausea, hepatitis, and vomiting in males and diarrhoea, electrocardiogram QT-prolonged, nausea, vomiting, and upper abdominal pain in females. Other hepatic and kidney-related events were included in the top ten ADRs in males, whereas no hepatic or renal terms were reported for females. COVID-19-related reporting patterns differed from non-pandemic reporting for these drugs.


Review of a global database of suspected ADR reports revealed sex differences in the reporting patterns for drugs used in the treatment of COVID-19. Patterns of ADR sex differences need further elucidation.

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