Drug-Drug Interactions and Prescription Appropriateness in Patients with COVID-19: A Retrospective Analysis from a Reference Hospital in Northern Italy

Dario Cattaneo, Luca Pasina, Aldo Pietro Maggioni, Andrea Giacomelli, Letizia Oreni, Alice Covizzi, Lucia Bradanini, Marco Schiuma, Spinello Antinori, Annalisa Ridolfo, Cristina Gervasoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Patients hospitalised with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 [SARS-CoV-2; coronavirus 2019 disease (COVID-19)] infection are frequently older with co-morbidities and receiving polypharmacy, all of which are known risk factors for drug-drug interactions (DDIs). The pharmacological burden may be further aggravated by the addition of treatments for COVID-19.

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to assess the risk of potential DDIs upon admission and during hospitalisation in patients with COVID-19 treated at our hospital.

METHODS: We retrospectively analysed 502 patients with COVID-19 (mean age 61 ± 16 years, range 15-99) treated at our hospital with a proven diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 infection hospitalised between 21 February and 30 April 2020 and treated with at least two drugs.

RESULTS: Overall, 68% of our patients with COVID-19 were exposed to at least one potential DDI, and 55% were exposed to at least one potentially severe DDI. The proportion of patients experiencing potentially severe DDIs increased from 22% upon admission to 80% during hospitalisation. Furosemide, amiodarone and quetiapine were the main drivers of potentially severe DDIs upon admission, and hydroxychloroquine and particularly lopinavir/ritonavir were the main drivers during hospitalisation. The majority of potentially severe DDIs carried an increased risk of cardiotoxicity. No potentially severe DDIs were identified in relation to tocilizumab and remdesivir.

CONCLUSIONS: Among hospitalised patients with COVID-19, concomitant treatment with lopinavir/ritonavir and hydroxychloroquine led to a dramatic increase in the number of potentially severe DDIs. Given the high risk of cardiotoxicity and the scant and conflicting data concerning their efficacy in treating SARS-CoV-2 infection, the use of lopinavir/ritonavir and hydroxychloroquine in patients with COVID-19 with polypharmacy needs to be carefully considered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)925-933
Number of pages9
JournalDrugs and Aging
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • COVID-19/drug therapy
  • Drug Interactions
  • Drug Prescriptions/statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Hospitals/statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Hydroxychloroquine/therapeutic use
  • Italy/epidemiology
  • Lopinavir/therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pandemics
  • Polypharmacy
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Ritonavir/therapeutic use
  • Young Adult


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