Oct 28, 2021 - Health

Study: Common antidepressant guards against COVID hospitalization

A hosptial worker in a white hooded hazmat suit stands among hospital beds where patients appear to be on ventilators.
A COVID-19 intensive care unit in Rio de Janeiro in May. Photo: Fabio Teixeira/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The readily available antidepressant fluvoxamine significantly reduced COVID-related hospitalizations, according to a large study published Wednesday.

Why it matters: The clinical trial suggests that a cheap, readily available drug could dramatically reduce serious illness and death when prescribed early.

  • Researchers from Canada, the U.S. and Brazil honed in on the drug for its anti-inflammatory properties for the study, published in the journal Lancet Global Health.

For the record: Fluvoxamine was approved by the FDA in the 1990s to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder.

The big picture: Participants with an early COVID-19 diagnosis were given 100 milligrams of the drug twice daily for 10 days. Those in the control group were given a placebo.

  • The clinical trial looked at nearly 1,500 people in Brazil. Among the participants who were given fluvoxamine, the rate of hospitalization decreased by a third, according to the study.
  • Among the participants who followed through with the fluvoxamine protocol, one patient in the fluvoxamine died, compared to 12 in the control group.

What they're saying: University of Minnesota infectious disease scientist David Boulware, who conducted his own study of the drug in coronavirus patients, told the New York Times: "It's not a shiny new, expensive drug. The nice thing about this is it has a known safety profile."

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