Penn Medicine has reported that the cholesterol-lowering drug fenofibrate showed no substantial impact on Covid-19 outcomes in a clinical trial.

Named FEnofibRate as a Metabolic INtervention for Covid-19 (FERMIN), the multicentre, randomised, international trial was led by scientists at the institute. 

Penn Medicine also served as the trial sponsor and carried out the trial, along with 26 partnering institutions from South America, North America, Western Asia, and Europe.

The trial enrolled 701 subjects within two weeks of Covid-19 symptom onset and subjects were categorised to receive fenofibrate 145mg (or equivalent preparations) or a placebo. 

According to the findings, fenofibrate demonstrated no significant impact either on disease severity scores or mortality from any cause among various metrics versus a placebo. 

No variations in outcomes up to 30 days following the preliminary randomisation were observed. 

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The results were similar across nations and were not impacted by age, sex, body mass index, race, diabetes status, or the time when subjects began receiving the drug.

A low-priced generic drug, fenofibrate has received the US Food and Drug Administration and several other regulatory agencies’ approval to cut down the amount of fatty substances in the blood, including cholesterol and triglycerides.

This medicine also raises levels of ‘good’ cholesterol or high-density lipoprotein cholesterol called HDL.

Penn Medicine Renal-Electrolyte and Hypertension assistant professor Jordana Cohen said: “Covid-19 is complex and involves not only its toxic effect on cells but also on a complex set of systemic host responses. 

“Therefore, cellular effects of drugs observed in a petri dish system may fail to translate to beneficial effects in people with Covid-19, as a result of a wide range of potential phenomena in whole organisms. 

“Our trial reinforces the importance of not equating laboratory efficacy with clinical efficacy in the setting of Covid-19.”