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A cheap antidepressant drug may help keep COVID-19 patients out of the hospital

Published: Oct. 28, 2021 at 6:25 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - In what may be a surprise to many, researchers believe a cheap antidepressant drug may help reduce severe cases of COVID for people who are high risk.

The drug is Fluvoxamine, but it’s known by its brand name Luvox. It’s taken in pill or capsule form and used by people diagnosed with obsessive compulsive behaviors.

Researchers said the drug helped reduce the production of inflammatory molecules that can be caused by COVID. It was given to 741 people who had COVID. Only about 11% needed to be treated in hospitals.

This is an inexpensive treatment, with a ten-day supply only costing about four dollars. While this is not a cure for COVID, it could keep people out of the hospital who get the infection. The drug is also easily available for people to use.

Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said a lot of the damage caused by the virus is due to inflammation, which leads to respiratory problems in some COVID-19 patients. Dr. Harris said this type of treatment could help those who come down with the infection.

“It’s been used by people for several years. We understand the side effect profile. We have a good understanding of any other adverse events associated with it. Having something that you are familiar with that in a serendipitous way to help COVID would be a big plus,” Harris said.

The low cost of Fluvoxamine for a single course makes the drug appealing, especially compared to a normal antibody treatment that costs $2,000. Doctors stress more study is needed into the drug.

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