Antidepressant fluvoxamine may cut COVID-19 hospitalisation risk
FRANCE: Treating high-risk COVID-19 patients with the antidepressant fluvoxamine may reduce the risk of prolonged hospitalisation by up to a third, a large-scale study showed Thursday (Oct 28).
Authors said the research could help boost low-cost protection against severe sickness or death in countries that have yet to receive adequate vaccine doses during a grossly uneven rollout.
Fluvoxamine is traditionally used to treat mental health conditions such as depression and obsessive-compulsive disorders, and was selected for trial due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
Authors said that administering fluvoxamine resulted in a relative reduction in hospitalisations of 32 per cent.
“COVID-19 still poses a risk to individuals in countries with low resources and limited access to vaccinations,” said co-principal trial investigator Edward Mills of McMaster University. “Identifying inexpensive, widely available, and effective therapies against Covid-19 is therefore of great importance, and repurposing existing medications that are widely available and have well-understood safety profiles is of particular interest,” he said. Although reducing deaths was not an intended area of focus, the study also found that 12 patients in the placebo group ended up dying, while just one from the fluvoxamine group succumbed to the virus.
The authors stressed that further evaluation is needed, as fluvoxamine is not on the World Health Organisation’s list of essential medicines and can be addictive.
“Given fluvoxamine’s safety, tolerability, ease of use, low cost and widespread availability, these findings may have an important influence on national and international guidelines on clinical management of COVID-19,” said study co-lead Gilmar Reis, who is based in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
– THE STRAITS TIMES