Just a Reflection: Does Drug Repurposing Perpetuate Sex-Gender Bias in the Safety Profile?

Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2021 Jul 27;14(8):730. doi: 10.3390/ph14080730.


Vaccines constitute a strategy to reduce the burden of COVID-19, but the treatment of COVID-19 is still a challenge. The lack of approved drugs for severe COVID-19 makes repurposing or repositioning of approved drugs a relevant approach because it occurs at lower costs and in a shorter time. Most preclinical and clinical tests, including safety and pharmacokinetic profiles, were already performed. However, infective and inflammatory diseases such as COVID-19 are linked with hypoalbuminemia and downregulation of both phase I and phase II drug-metabolizing enzymes and transporters, which can occur in modifications of pharmacokinetics and consequentially of safety profiles. This appears to occur in a sex- and gender-specific way because of the sex and gender differences present in the immune system and inflammation, which, in turn, reflect on pharmacokinetic parameters. Therefore, to make better decisions about drug dosage regimens and to increases the safety profile in patients suffering from infective and inflammatory diseases such as COVID-19, it is urgently needed to study repurposing or repositioning drugs in men and in women paying attention to pharmacokinetics, especially for those drugs that are previously scarcely evaluated in women.

Keywords: COVID-19; gender; inflammation; pharmacokinetics; sex.

Publication types

  • Review