Heartburn Medicine Being Studied as Possible Treatment for Coronavirus

April 27, 2020
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Ever since coronavirus has struck the world, the scientific community has been studying possible treatments for COVID-19.

Now, researchers are investigating whether a popular heartburn medicine can treat people with coronavirus.

ABC News reports that scientists are studying a drug called famotidine, an ingredient found in Pepcid, the over-the-counter medication that is used to reduce heartburn.

Researchers at Northwell Health in New York, have been giving famotidine to patients that have been hospitalized with COVID-19. The drug is administered via IV in megadoses nine times greater than the typical average dose. The drug is being given with the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine.

While data on the drug's safety will be available “in a few weeks,” researchers did not disclose when the public can expect data showing whether the combination of famotidine and hydroxychloroquine is effective.

Dr. Kevin Tracey, CEO and president of the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research at Northwell Health, said the study was conducted under the radar to avoid media attention that could lead to speculative hoarding of the heartburn medication across the United States.

In the Northwell study, more than 180 patients have participated. These patients have been either given the two-drug combination of hydroxychloroquine and famotidine, or hydroxychloroquine on its own.

Tracey said hydroxychloroquine was added into the study before data showed the drug had potential risks.

The Northwell CEO said researchers added famotidine to the study because his colleague Dr. Michael Callahan recently visited China, where he worked in conjunction with Chinese physicians on a still-unpublished study alleging that that the drug benefitted patients with coronavirus.

Northwell hopes to have 1,200 patients take part in this study at some point, according to CNN.

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