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Low-Cost Antidepressant Fluvoxamine Saves Lives of COVID-19 Patients – “Powerful Weapon Against the Virus”

An inexpensive repurposed drug called fluvoxamine (FDA can save the lives of COVID-19First identified in 2019 in Wuhan, China, Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). It has spread globally, resulting in the 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic.”>COVID-19 patients and cut hospital admissions by up to 30 percent, says a study co-led by McMaster University.

Fluvoxamine is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) that is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder and is used for other conditions, including depression.

McMaster researcher Edward Mills and his team treated 739 randomly selected Brazilian COVID-19 patients with fluvoxamine, with another 733 receiving a placebo, between January 15 to August 6 of this year.

Every patient who received fluvoxamine during the trial was tracked for 28 days to determine their health outcomes and if they still need hospital treatment. Researchers found about a 30 percent reduction in hospitalizations among those receiving fluvoxamine compared to those receiving the placebo.

This effect went up to 65% among patients taking all of their drugs.  The fluvoxamine trial formed part of the larger TOGETHER Trial that started in May 2020, aiming to test potential COVID-19 treatments in a community setting.

“Fluvoxamine is, so far, the only treatment that if administered early, can prevent COVID-19 from becoming a life-threatening illness. It could be one of our most powerful weapons against the virus and its effectiveness is one of the most important discoveries we have made since the pandemic began,” said Mills, co-principal investigator for the TOGETHER Trial and a professor of McMaster’s Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact.

Edward Mills. Credit: McMaster University

TOGETHER Trial researchers published their findings in The LancetFounded in 1823 by Thomas Wakley, The Lancet is a weekly peer-reviewed general medical journal. It is one of the world’s oldest, most prestigious, and best known general medical journals. The journal publishes original research articles, review articles (“seminars” and “reviews”), editorials, book reviews, correspondence, as well as news features and case reports. The Lancet has editorial offices in London, New York, and Beijing. ”>The Lancet on October 27, 2021.

“In addition, this cheap, easily-accessible pill is a massive boon to public health, both in Canada and internationally, allowing hospitals to avoid expensive and sometimes risky treatments.”

Costing about $4 per 10-day course, fluvoxamine could be a game-changer for poorer countries with low vaccination rates and lacking access to more advanced COVID-19 therapies, he added.

Fluvoxamine has been used since the 1990s for various conditions and its safety profile is well-known. It was identified early in the pandemic for its potential to reduce the cytokine storm in COVID-19 patients. Cytokine storms are severe immune responses to COVID-19 that can cause potentially lethal organ damage.

Reference: “Effect of early treatment with fluvoxamine on risk of emergency care and hospitalisation among patients with COVID-19: the TOGETHER randomised, platform clinical trial” by Gilmar Reis, PhD; Eduardo Augusto dos Santos Moreira-Silva, PhD; Daniela Carla Medeiros Silva, PhD; Prof Lehana Thabane, PhD; Aline Cruz Milagres, RN; Thiago Santiago Ferreira, MD; Castilho Vitor Quirino dos Santos; Vitoria Helena de Souza Campos; Ana Maria Ribeiro Nogueira, MD; Ana Paula Figueiredo Guimaraes de Almeida, MD; Eduardo Diniz Callegari, MD; Adhemar Dias de Figueiredo Neto, PhD; Leonardo Cançado Monteiro Savassi, PhD; Maria Izabel Campos Simplicio, BScPharm; Luciene Barra Ribeiro, RN; Rosemary Oliveira; Ofir Harari, PhD; Jamie I Forrest, MPH; Hinda Ruton, MSc; Sheila Sprague, PhD; Paula McKay, MSc; Alla V Glushchenko, MD; Craig R Rayner, FRCPE; Prof Eric J Lenze, MD; Angela M Reiersen, MD; Prof Gordon H Guyatt, MD and Prof Edward J Mills, FRCP for the TOGETHER investigators, 27 October 2021, The Lancet.
DOI: 10.1016/S2214-109X(21)00448-4

Joining McMaster’s scientists in the TOGETHER Trial were researchers from the CardResearch Cardiologia Assistencial e de Pesquisa LTDA in Brazil.

The TOGETHER trial researchers have also submitted their research to the U.S.-based National Institutes of Health and the World Health Organization.

External funding for the study was received from FastGrants and The Rainwater Foundation.

Source: SciTechDaily