J Clin Med

. 2020 Aug 10;9(8):E2591.
doi: 10.3390/jcm9082591.
Risk of Adverse Drug Events Following the Virtual Addition of COVID-19 Repurposed Drugs to Drug Regimens of Frail Older Adults with Polypharmacy

Sweilem B Al Rihani 1 , Matt K Smith 1 , Ravil Bikmetov 1 , Malavika Deodhar 1 , Pamela Dow 1 , Jacques Turgeon 1 2 , Veronique Michaud 1 2



Determination of the risk-benefit ratio associated with the use of novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) repurposed drugs in older adults with polypharmacy is mandatory. Our objective was to develop and validate a strategy to assess risk for adverse drug events (ADE) associated with COVID-19 repurposed drugs using hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and chloroquine (CQ), alone or in combination with azithromycin (AZ), and the combination lopinavir/ritonavir (LPV/r). These medications were virtually added, one at a time, to drug regimens of 12,383 participants of the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly. The MedWise Risk Score (MRSTM) was determined from 198,323 drug claims. Results demonstrated that the addition of each repurposed drug caused a rightward shift in the frequency distribution of MRSTM values (p < 0.05); the increase was due to an increase in the drug-induced Long QT Syndrome (LQTS) or CYP450 drug interaction burden risk scores. Increases in LQTS risk observed with HCQ + AZ and CQ + AZ were of the same magnitude as those estimated when terfenadine or terfenadine + AZ, used as positive controls for drug-induced LQTS, were added to drug regimens. The simulation-based strategy performed offers a way to assess risk of ADE for drugs to be used in people with underlying medical comorbidities and polypharmacy at risk of COVID-19 infection without exposing them to these drugs.

Keywords: COVID-19; adverse drug events; older adults; polypharmacy; simulation.