Heartburn Drug Decreased COVID-19 Disease Fatalities
A new study found that COVID-19 disease patients who took a 40-year-old heartburn medicine while hospitalized were more than 2x as likely to survive the coronavirus infection.
These patients received famotidine within 24 hours of admission at a New York City hospital.
The drug, famotidine, is an active ingredient in the popular heartburn treatment Pepcid.
However, proton pump inhibitors, which also suppress gastric acid, were not associated with reduced risk for death or intubation during this study.
Famotidine is a histamine-2 receptor antagonist that suppresses gastric acid production and is frequently prescribed for hospitalized patients for stress ulcer prophylaxis, according to the NIH.
This non-peer-reviewed study published on May 8, 2020, included a total of 1,620 patients who met criteria for analysis including 84 patients (5.1%) who received famotidine within 24 hours of hospital admission.
The median age was 65 years, 44% were female, and the median BMI recorded was 28. Home use of famotidine was documented on admission medication reconciliation in 15% of those who used famotidine while hospitalized compared to 1% of those who did not.
Within the cohort, 28% of all famotidine doses were intravenous; 47% of famotidine doses were 20 mg, 35% were 40 mg, and 17% were 10mg.
Famotidine users received a median of 5.8 days of the drug for a total median dose of 136 mg.
In crude analysis, the use of famotidine was significantly associated with reduced risk for the composite outcome of death or intubation.
When those who died prior to intubation were excluded, there was no association between the use of famotidine and intubation.
These researchers primarily from the New York state area, said ‘this study’s findings are observational and should not be interpreted to indicate that famotidine has a protective effect in patients hospitalized with COVID-19.’
However, ‘in light of the potential antiviral effects of famotidine, randomized trials have been undertaken to determine whether famotidine improves clinical outcomes in patients hospitalized with COVID-19 disease.’
The idea for the current trial originated in China, where doctors realized that hospitalized patients with COVID-19 tended to have better outcomes if they had preexisting acid reflux disease.
An infectious disease doctor named Michael Callahan participated in this study and was the first to call attention to the drug in the United States.
Dr. Callahan, who is based at Massachusetts General Hospital, has spent time in disease hot zones around the world, including the 2003 outbreak of another coronavirus disease, SARS, in Hong Kong.
COVID-19 disease treatment news is published by Precision Vaccinations.