Outpatient medications associated with protection from COVID-19 hospitalization

Harpal Singh Sandhu, Joshua Lambert, Zach Steckler, Lee Park, Arnold Stromberg, Julio Ramirez, Chi Fu Jeffrey Yang

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1 Scopus citations


The COVID-19 pandemic remains the pre-eminent global health problem, and yet after more than three years there is still no prophylactic agent against the disease aside from vaccines. The objective of this study was to evaluate whether pre-existing, outpatient medications approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reduce the risk of hospitalization due to COVID-19. This was a retrospective cohort study of patients from across the United States infected with COVID-19 in the year 2020. The main outcome was adjusted odds of hospitalization for COVID-19 amongst those positive for the infection. Outcomes were adjusted for known risk factors for severe disease. 3,974,272 patients aged 18 or older with a diagnosis of COVID-19 in 2020 met our inclusion criteria and were included in the analysis. Mean age was 50.7 (SD 18). Of this group, 290,348 patients (7.3%) were hospitalized due to COVID-19, similar to the CDC's reported estimate (7.5%). Four drugs showed protective effects against COVID-19 hospitalization: rosuvastatin (aOR 0.91, p = 0.00000024), empagliflozin-metformin (aOR 0.69, p = 0.003), metformin (aOR 0.97, p = 0.017), and enoxaparin (aOR 0.88, p = 0.0048). Several pre-existing medications for outpatient use may reduce severity of disease and protect against COVID-19 hospitalization. Well-designed clinical trials are needed to assess the efficacy of these agents in a therapeutic or prophylactic setting.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0282961
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number3 MARCH
StatePublished - Mar 2023

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© 2023 Sandhu et al.

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