Study: Osteoporosis treatments could reduce incidence of COVID-19

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Some of the principal treatments for osteoporosis could have a protective effect against COVID-19 in patients who take them, a new study from Spain suggests.

A joint study by Hospital del Mar, Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute, Pompeu Fabra University and the Pere Virgili Health Park found that denosumab, zoledronate and calcium could have a protective effect against COVID-19 in patients who take them, specifically a 30% to 40% reduction in the rate of infection.

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The study, the first of its kind in the world, was just published in the journal Aging.

“There are indications to allow hypothesizing that certain drugs used to treat rheumatic diseases could interfere positively in the natural history of COVID-19, either by decreasing its incidence or by decreasing its progression to more serious cases," said Dr. Jordi Monfort, head of Rheumatology at Hospital del Mar and coordinator of the Cell Research on Inflammation and Cartilage research group at Hospital del Mar-IMIM.

The study analyzed data from more than 2,000 patients with osteoporosis, osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia and their relationship with COVID-19 infection who are being followed up at Hospital del Mar and in the Mar Health Park healthcare sphere of influence.

Specialists at Hospital del Mar noticed the low incidence of the coronavirus in some of their patients. They studied the different treatments and the evolution of rheumatology patients with non-inflammatory diseases and their relation to infection by SARS-CoV-2, their evolution, need for hospitalization and mortality.

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“The study suggests that some of these treatments may protect patients against infection by COVID-19, although further studies still need to be conducted on more patients to prove it,” said Dr. Josep Blanch-Rubio, head of rheumatology and a researcher with the Cell Research on Inflammation and Cartilage research group at Hospital del Mar-IMIM.

Two other treatments were also found to have an effect on COVID-19, but only one of them was positive.

The results indicated the antidepressant duloxetine may also have a positive effect in reducing the incidence of COVID-19. Conversely, a commonly used painkiller, pregabalin, seemed to have a tendency to increase the incidence of the disease.

Dr. Alba Gurt, a physician at the Vila Olímpica CAP of the Pere Virgili Health Park, points out that “the data from the study would indicate that the antiosteoporotic treatments and duloxetine administered to our primary care patients are safe against infection by COVID-19 and could even reduce its incidence. However, studies with a higher number of patients are required to verify this.”

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