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21-04-2021 | Diabetes | News | Article

News in brief

Metformin may reduce pneumonia risk

Eleanor McDermid

medwireNews: Researchers have found that people taking metformin for type 2 diabetes are less likely to be hospitalized or die due to pneumonia than those taking other glucose-lowering medications.

Elaine Chow (The Chinese University of Hong Kong) and study co-authors point out that metformin “was originally introduced as an anti-influenza drug.”

In their study based on data from the Hong Kong Diabetes Register, they found that receipt of metformin was associated with a significant 37% reduced risk for pneumonia hospitalization and a 51% reduced risk for pneumonia death.

The study participants included 15,784 metformin users and 917 users of other diabetes medications. During an average follow-up of 7.5 years, there were 1227 first pneumonia hospitalizations and 225 pneumonia deaths among these people.

The association between metformin use and reduced pneumonia risk remained significant after accounting for time-varying metformin exposure and variables including age, glycated hemoglobin, kidney function, and influenza and pneumococcal vaccinations.

Furthermore, the magnitude of the risk reduction increased with longer duration of metformin treatment, for both hospitalization and death, report the researchers in Diabetologia. And there was a dose-response for pneumonia hospitalization, with statistical significance seen above 500 mg/day.

They conclude: “Our findings support the potential repurposing of metformin as a host-directed therapy in our combat against respiratory infections.”

medwireNews is an independent medical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Ltd. © 2021 Springer Healthcare Ltd, part of the Springer Nature Group

Diabetologia 2021; doi:10.1007/s00125-021-05452-0

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