A cheap antidepressant drug – fluvoxamine – reduces the hospitalization of adults at high risk of hospitalization due to covid-19, according to a study examining drugs that could be used to fight the new coronavirus, reports The Assoxciated Press.
Researchers have performed tests on this pill against depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder, which reduces inflammation and which looked promising in small-scale studies.
They shared the results of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), which publishes treatment guidelines, and hope that the World Health Organization (WHO) will recommend this pill.
“If the WHO recommends it, it will be widely used,” said one of the study’s authors, Dr. Edward Mills of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.
Many poor countries have this drug, he said.
“We hope this will save many lives,” he said.
Fluvoxamine costs four dollars as a treatment for covid-19.
Treatment with IV antibodies costs $ 2,000, and treatment with the experimental oral antiviral pill against covid-19 from the American pharmaceutical laboratory Merck – molnupiravir – costs $ 700.
Some experts predict a possible combination of covd-19 treatments.
Researchers tested this antidepressant on 1,500 Brazilians recently infected with the new coronavirus and who were at serious risk of becoming ill with other health problems, such as diabetes.
About half took the antidepressant home for ten days and the other half a placebo.
They were monitored for four weeks to see if they were hospitalized or if they were hospitalized for a long time while the hospitals were full.
In the fluvoxamine-treated group, 11% of participants needed hospitalization or long-term hospitalization in the emergency department, while 16% of placebo-treated participants needed it.
The test result – published Wednesday in the Lancet Global Health – is so strong that independent experts who mounted the study recommended stopping it earlier, because the result is clear.
There are questions about the best dosage, whether patients at lower risk benefit from this treatment and whether fluvoxamine needs to be combined with other treatments.
Eight drugs were tested in a larger project that looked at whether they could be used against covid-19.
In this project, tests with a hepatitis drug are still being performed, but the other drugs – metformin, hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin – did not work against covid-19.
This cheap generic drug and Merck’s molnupiravir pill against covid-19 work differently and “may be complementary,” said Dr. Paul Sax of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, who was not involved in the study.
Merck asked the US drug agencies (FDA) and the European Union (EMA) this month to authorize molnupiravir.
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