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Sunday, October 2, 2022

Cheap anti-depressant may reduce severe COVID-19

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A cheap anti-depressant may reduce the need for hospitalization among high-risk adults with COVID-19, a research has found.

The research was part of a study hunting for existing drugs that could be repurposed to treat coronavirus.

A selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) known as fluvoxamine and sold under the brand name Luvox, among others, was given to 1,500 patients in Brazil who were recently infected and assessed to be at risk of becoming seriously ill.

Researchers tested the pill, which is used for depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder, because it was known to reduce inflammation and looked promising in smaller studies.

The drug was chosen with the hope that it could help prevent cytokine storms, the immune reaction that causes major inflammation and is believed to be behind many of the deaths among COVID-19 patients.

Researchers said a 10-day course of fluvoxamine costs approximately USD 4. By comparison, antibody IV treatments cost about USD 2,000 and Merck’s experimental antiviral pill for COVID-19 is about USD 700 per course. Some experts predict various treatments eventually will be used in combination to fight the coronavirus.

In the trial, 741 patients were given fluvoxamine while 756 volunteers took the placebo. The average age of participants was 50 and 58% were female.

Of those on the drug, 79 (11%) required emergency hospital treatment, while 119 (16%) of those who took the placebo needed care.

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