Hospitalized patients on high-flow oxygen for severe COVID-19 pneumonia were nearly 50 percent less likely to die when baricitinib was added to the antiviral remdesivir and the steroid dexamethasone, according to Rutgers research.
“All three of the medications work in different ways, so it makes sense that you’d get added therapeutic benefit by combining them,” said co-author Maria Cardinale-King, a clinical assistant professor at the Rutgers Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy and a pharmacy clinical specialist at Saint Peter’s University Hospital. “But none of the COVID medication trials tested this combination of therapies in severe COVID-19 infection.”
The study compared outcomes for 110 patients treated with remdesivir and dexamethasone and 81 treated with both those medications plus baricitinib at Saint Peter’s between June 2020 and June 2021. Although triple therapy was associated lower risk of death, it wasn’t associated with less time on ventilators or less time in the hospital.
“There are a couple of important caveats, the biggest of which is that most of these cases took place before variants emerged, so these findings may not hold true for newer forms of COVID-19,” Cardinale-King said. “However, we haven’t had enough people hospitalized recently to optimize protocols for new variants, so for now, it’s reasonable to use protocols that worked best on the original variant.”