Famotidine trial underway
There are ongoing studies to determine if famotidine can be used to treat COVID-19. Famotidine is a generic over-the-counter medication. It is an antacid/antihistamine that is usually used to treat heartburn caused by indigestion.
You can also use it to treat ulcers, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and other conditions that cause excess stomach acid. Famotidine is the active ingredient contained in popular brand name medications such as Pepcid, Heartburn Prevention, Acid Controller, Acid Reducer, Heartburn Relief, and Pepcid AC.
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What we know today
Recent reports have questioned if famotidine can be used to treat coronavirus, COVID-19. This theory has emerged as scientists scramble to find potential treatments for COVID-19.
At the time of writing this article, preliminary results of a clinical trial in New York in which famotidine was used will be officially ready in a few weeks. However, earlier reports from China and molecular modeling results showed that famotidine can make a great difference in the treatment of COVID-19 patients.
An infectious disease doctor name Michael Callahan based at Massachusetts General Hospital has been credited with having extensive connections in the biodefense world. He was the one who initially called attention to possibly using Famotidine to treat COVID-19 in the United States.
Based on his recommendation, preliminary studies started at The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in New York.
Dr. Callahan who has spent time in several disease hot zones around the world followed his Chinese colleagues to Wuhan when the COVID-19 epidemic began to explode there. According to their findings there, many survivors of COVID-19 had been suffering from chronic heartburn.
They were also taking famotidine rather than the more popular omeprazole (Prilosec). Prilosec is reportedly a medicine of choice among wealthier Chinese, while the poorer ones were usually given the cheaper version, famotidine.
According to their reports, less number of the poorer patients on famotidine died. Hospitalized COVID-19 patients who were poorer and on famotidine appeared to be dying at a much lower rate than those who were not on the medication.
Also, about 14% of COVID-19 patients on famotidine died, compared to 27% of those not on the medication.
The initial clinical test studies performed in New York used high ‘intravenous’ doses of famotidine to treat patients who were critically ill with COVID-19. Patients who had pre-existing decreased kidney function were excluded from the trial test because of the risk of heart problems due to the high doses of famotidine used.
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There were also reports of a 44-year-old woman who took a mega dose of famotidine. She had earlier tested positive for COVID-19, had developed a fever, and her lips had turned dark blue from hypoxia. After taking the mega dose of famotidine, her fever allegedly broke the next morning, and her oxygen saturation returned to normal – her lips returned to their normal color.
Three other people who were confirmed to have COVID-19 reportedly showed dramatic improvements after taking over-the-counter versions of famotidine in high doses.
Warnings against stockpiling & using famotidine
What you should know is that these reports are all results of preliminary studies done under ‘controlled’ settings. No approved use of famotidine has been made as of today.
People are being warned to not rush out to buy famotidine from your local drugstore. This is because the patients used for the current Northwell study were given mega doses of famotidine intravenously. The patients were not given the medication orally.
Also, megadoses of any drug can potentially cause negative long-term side effects!
If there’s a shortage of Pepcid in the stores and pharmacies, there will be a problem. This is because real heartburn patients who actually need this medication could suffer if the stores run out.
Recent news reports indicated that many stores were already facing a shortage of Pepcid after the release of this initial study. The stores reportedly included CVS, Walgreens, and Amazon. Heartburn medications are reportedly flying off shelves at major pharmacies in the United States.
Most CVS stores in New York were also reportedly out of stock of Pepcid and other brands of medication containing famotidine. Amazon was also reportedly experiencing shortages of Pepcid as well.
Walgreens was noted to have limited stock in some stores and completely out in others. Meanwhile, Pepcid was reportedly being sold on eBay at inflated prices. Some vendors were selling Pepcid at $90 and higher for a bottle that normally sells for $10 at Walmart.
At this time, there is no need for you to rush out to your local pharmacy or Walmart to buy famotidine or Pepcid. There’s no need to empty their shelves of Pepcid and other brands of famotidine.
Matthew Libassi is the spokesman for the Feinstein Institutes. This is where the trial studies are being done. He has warned the public about the doses of famotidine used for the trial study.
The dosage of famotidine used in the clinical trial study is nine times more than the dose of over-the-counter Pepcid. The trial studies are also done under ‘controlled’, health care settings, which you don’t have at home.
The clinical studies on the use of famotidine for the treatment of COVID-19 are still in their preliminary stages. No definite conclusions have been made yet.
At the time of writing this post, there is no FDA-approved medication or vaccine for COVID-19. You should therefore not take famotidine or any other medication containing famotidine for COVID-19 without consulting your health care provider first.