New York hospitals test heartburn drug as treatment for COVID-19

In an attempt to discover the cure for coronavirus, New York hospitals have been testing a heartburn drug on COVID-19 patients.

The coronavirus pandemic has made an extensive impact on the whole population. It already took almost a million lives. Without the discovery of a cure, it will continue to do so.

Hence, several laboratories and research facilities around the globe have been conducting various studies in an attempt to acquire information that could lead to the development of COVID-19’s treatment.

Famotidine tested as coronavirus treatment

Similarly, hospitals from New York have been quietly testing a heartburn drug called famotidine as a treatment for coronavirus. Northwell Health, a network of the hospital in the New York City area, has been delivering famotidine through an IV.

The doses injected is nine times greater than the amount of famotidine a person with heartburn would intake. Reportedly, the drug has been given in combination with hydroxychloroquine. This is an anti-malaria drug touted by President Donald Trump.

However, the Food and Drug Administration has recently warned against this after studies showed few benefits and an increase in deaths.

More about the study

As of this time, 187 COVID-19 patients in critical status, including many on ventilators, have been enrolled in the trial. Northwell Health eventually hopes to test a total of 1174 people.

According to Dr Kevin Tracey, president of Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research at Northwell Health, preliminary results will be available in a few weeks.

The team at Northwell Health did not doubt to test the drug as there are many examples in the history of medicine where a drug that was designed for one purpose turns out to affect another disease.

If famotidine works, it would be easy to use on a widespread scale as it is generic, inexpensive, and has a lot of stocks in the market.

Where the idea originated

The first person to draw attention to the drug in the United States was a globe-trotting infectious disease specialist named Michael Callahan. He has deep connections in the field of biodefense and has spent time in disease hot zones across the world.

As the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan began to erupt, he followed his Chinese colleagues into the increasingly infected region. In reviewing 6,212 COVID-19 patient records, Callahan, along with the other doctors noticed that many survivors had been suffering from chronic heartburn and were on famotidine.

Hospitalized COVID-19 patients on famotidine appeared to be dying at a rate of about 14% compared with 27% for those not on the drug.

Although the study was rudimentary and the result was not statistically valid, it was enough for Callahan to pursue the issue back in the United States.

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Image Courtesy of ABC News/Youtube Screenshot

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