Why This Common Heartburn Drug Is Attracting Attention Amid COVID-19 Outbreak

A cure for COVID-19 remains uncertain, although there are several drugs recommended. However, these offer temporary relief for people who may have been experiencing extreme discomfort from the coronavirus. It appears that there is a common over-the-counter drug that can help.

The drug is normally used as a heartburn remedy and a study reveals how some people afflicted with COVID-19 were able to find relief. The results were encouraging and now a larger study is being made on famotidine, which is an ingredient in the over-the-counter heartburn treatment Pepcid.

"We want to know, what's the best way to address these patients, and keep them out of the hospital and get them feeling better sooner," Dr. Joseph Conigliaro, a physician at Northwell Health in New York and co-author on the paper, said.

In the study, all but one of the subjects took the drug within 10 days after experiencing symptoms like cough and shortness of breath. The ages of the people who tried the drug ranged between 23 and 71. According to the report, patients noticed a rapid improvement in their condition within 24 to 48 hours. Hence, there is a strong possibility that famotidine could be a key reliever for people dealing with COVID-19, CNN reported. Some even felt that they were back to normal after two weeks.

What makes famotidine interesting is that it is a cost-friendly drug that can be easily purchased over the counter. As far as side effects, 7 out of 10 patients who tried the drug had none. The remaining three experienced minor side effects such as dizziness and gastrointestinal issues.

There was one patient who experienced worsening of symptoms. He allegedly felt more tired after taking the drug. Hence, deeper studies may be needed to back famotidine. That includes figuring out why some had different reactions when taking it.

Now, Northwell researchers are looking to ramp up studies tied to the heartburn drug. People who are dealing with the coronavirus will be selected at random and assigned to take famotidine or placebo. Doctors will not be informed on which patients took the drug for proper analysis of the cases.

Drugs A systematic review by University of Pennsylvania found 115 treatments that were used to experimentally treat COVID-19. Pixabay

Although the results are encouraging, people are advised not to take the drug as a way to cure or prevent COVID-19 infection. Conigliaro urges most to first consult with their doctors before taking it until trials to back that it can aid in coronavirus cases comes out.