Funding boost for COVID-19 Drug Interactions prescribing tool

The University of Liverpool has been awarded more than £66K in funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) for the further development of the COVID-19 Drug Interactions prescribing tool (www.covid19-druginteractions.org).

Created by the University’s Liverpool Drug Interactions Group in March 2020, with input from colleagues at University Hospital Basel and Radboud University, Nijmegen, the website provides vital information on whether the combination of an experimental drug and co-medications are safe to prescribe. This is of particular importance when treating elderly patients and those with underlying health problems, who are most at risk from severe COVID-19 disease and who are likely to be receiving multiple other drugs.

The award will enable the group to further develop the website by expanding the number of COVID-19 agents and commonly prescribed co-medications, producing downloadable prescribing resources for complex patient cases and launching a COVID-19 drug interactions mobile app. An important aspect of this work is also the development of physiologically based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) models to better predict drug interactions for patients.

Professor Saye Khoo, Clinical Lead of the Liverpool Drug Interactions Group, said: “We realised early on that there was potential for harm as well as for good, when experimental therapies were given to very sick people receiving numerous other medicines.

“The team worked through days and nights, pulling together all the evidence we could possibly find, circulating an advanced copy to WHO within three days, and publishing our new COVID drug interactions tool online within seven days. It was a remarkable feat from a dedicated and passionate team which I am proud to be a part of.”

Dr Marco Siccardi added “The team will work on generating computer-based models to identify groups of patients at higher risk of developing toxicities related to emerging therapies for COVID-19 and drug-drug interactions with concomitant medicines. This project represents a great opportunity to integrate computer- based modelling into prescribing tools to enable better decisions, better prescriptions, and consequently better care for patients.”

About NIHR and UKRI

NIHR is the nation’s largest funder of health and care research. The organisation:

• Funds, supports and delivers high quality research that benefits the NHS, public health and social care

• Engages and involves patients, carers and the public in order to improve the reach, quality and impact of research

• Attracts, trains and supports the best researchers to tackle the complex health and care challenges of the future

• Invests in world-class infrastructure and a skilled delivery workforce to translate discoveries into improved treatments and services

• Partners with other public funders, charities and industry to maximise the value of research to patients and the economy

The NIHR was established in 2006 to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research, and is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care. In addition to its national role, the NIHR supports applied health research for the direct and primary benefit of people in low- and middle-income countries, using UK aid from the UK government.

UKRI is a new body which works in partnership with universities, research organisations, businesses, charities, and government to create the best possible environment for research and innovation to flourish. We aim to maximise the contribution of each of our component parts, working individually and collectively. We work with our many partners to benefit everyone through knowledge, talent and ideas.

Operating across the whole of the UK with a combined budget of more than £7 billion, UK Research and Innovation brings together the Arts and Humanities Research Council; Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council; Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council; Economic and Social Research Council; Innovate UK; Medical Research Council; Natural Environment Research Council; Research England; and Science and Technology Facilities Council.

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