Cheap Antidepressant Fluvoxamine Shows Promise Treating Severe Covid-19

    In a meta-analysis looking for existing drugs that could be repurposed to treat coronavirus, Fluvoxamine – a low-cost antidepressant reduced the need for hospitalization among high-risk adults with COVID-19.

    The drug, which is used to treat depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder, was put to the test since it was known to lower inflammation and had shown promise in smaller studies.

    For a course of COVID-19 treatment, the medication, fluvoxamine, would cost $4. Antibody IV therapies cost around $2,000, while Merck’s investigational COVID-19 antiviral tablet costs around $700 per course. Some scientists believe that various medicines will be used in tandem to combat the coronavirus in the future.

    In this paper, the researchers assessed the combined results of three trials including more than 2000 participants, and found there was a 94.1 per cent to 98.6 per cent chance the drug had an impact on hospitalization numbers when used as an early COVID-19 treatment.

    They say Fluvoxamine could be a more widely accessible option to supplement the use of other treatments, particularly where supply is low.

    These findings imply that fluvoxamine, a widely available and low-cost therapy for COVID-19 outpatients, was linked to fewer hospitalizations.

    The results of the study were published today in the JAMA Network Open.

    There are still questions about the appropriate dosing, whether lower-risk patients could benefit, and whether the pill should be used in conjunction with other therapies.

    While clinicians do not need FDA approval to prescribe fluvoxamine for emergency use, they may be reticent to do so unless the National Institutes of Health recommends it in its Covid-19 treatment guidelines.

    According to the NIH, “there is insufficient evidence . . . to recommend either for or against the use of fluvoxamine for the treatment of COVID-19.”

    Source: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.6269

    Image Credit: Getty

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