Background: Protease inhibitors have been considered as possible therapeutic agents for COVID-19 patients. Objectives: To describe the association between lopinavir/ritonavir (LPV/r) or darunavir/cobicistat (DRV/c) use and in-hospital mortality in COVID-19 patients. Study Design: Multicenter observational study of COVID-19 patients admitted in 33 Italian hospitals. Medications, preexisting conditions, clinical measures, and outcomes were extracted from medical records. Patients were retrospectively divided in three groups, according to use of LPV/r, DRV/c or none of them. Primary outcome in a time-to event analysis was death. We used Cox proportional-hazards models with inverse probability of treatment weighting by multinomial propensity scores. Results: Out of 3,451 patients, 33.3% LPV/r and 13.9% received DRV/c. Patients receiving LPV/r or DRV/c were more likely younger, men, had higher C-reactive protein levels while less likely had hypertension, cardiovascular, pulmonary or kidney disease. After adjustment for propensity scores, LPV/r use was not associated with mortality (HR = 0.94, 95% CI 0.78 to 1.13), whereas treatment with DRV/c was associated with a higher death risk (HR = 1.89, 1.53 to 2.34, E-value = 2.43). This increased risk was more marked in women, in elderly, in patients with higher severity of COVID-19 and in patients receiving other COVID-19 drugs. Conclusions: In a large cohort of Italian patients hospitalized for COVID-19 in a real-life setting, the use of LPV/r treatment did not change death rate, while DRV/c was associated with increased mortality. Within the limits of an observational study, these data do not support the use of LPV/r or DRV/c in COVID-19 patients.
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