An old, inexpensive anti-depressant, fluvoxamine, may actually save COVID-19 patients

August 24, 2021

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Several clinical trials, including a large trial with 1,500 test subjects, indicate that the fluvoxamine may help COVID-19 patients in the early stages of the disease stay out of the hospital and avoid long hours under the eyes of emergency room physicians.

The quest for COVID-19 remedies has led patients and doctors into a few dead ends among old established drugs. Other drugs, including hydroxychloroquine, metformin, kaletra and ivermectin, were in the study but only fluvoxamine had positive effects on COVID-19, according to Mills.

Fluvoxamine has been around since the 1990s and typically has been used in extreme cases of major depressive disorder and obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD). The oral treatment is known to reduce inflammation of the brain.

Fluvoxamine is an inexpensive, easy to use and widely available drug,” Eric Lenze, a professor of psychiatry at Washington University in St. Louis who conducted one of the first clinical trials of the drug’s effect on COVID-19, told Los Angeles Times by email, “We already know about its safety, since it has been on the market for more than 25 years,”

The treatment of fluvoxamine was identified early in the pandemic for its potential to reduce cytokine storms — severe immune responses to COVID-19 that can cause potentially lethal organ damage.

Lenze’s study involved 152 patients, of whom about half received a placebo. He found that none of the 80 who received the drug experienced medical deterioration such as shortness of breath or the need for hospitalization, while six of the 72 who got a placebo did show those medical symptoms.

Find more information on JAMA Network.


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