Ivermectin is among generic drugs that failed to help COVID-19 patients avoid hospitalization, key study finds – CNET

A new study has found that three generic drugs — fluvoxamine, which is commonly prescribed to treat depression, the controversial anti-malarial drug ivermectin, and the diabetes drug metformin — have failed to prevent the type of COVID-19 that is serious and a visit to the emergency room leads to hospitalization.

The study, published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, looked at whether any of the three drugs benefited 1,323 patients when prescribed in the early days of COVID-19 infection. Some of the study participants received a combination of metformin and fluvoxamine or metformin and ivermectin, most were vaccinated, and all were overweight. The randomized, placebo-controlled phase 3 study was conducted from December 2020 to January of this year by researchers at the University of Minnesota.

“None of the drugs showed any impact on the primary outcome, which included low oxygen levels measured on a home oxygen monitor,” said Dr. from the Minnesota Medical School.

Low blood oxygen, or hypoxemia, is a common reason patients with COVID-19 seek emergency care, are hospitalized, or die.

Until the Food and Drug Administration approves Pfizer’s PFE,
-1.18%
Merck’s antiviral Paxlovid and MRK,
+0.50%
Lagevrio at the end of 2021 had no approved treatment for people who had tested positive for the virus but were not yet sick enough to go to the hospital. Repurposed drugs — which are cheap, readily available, and have decades of safety data, including in children and pregnant women — have had particular appeal to regulators and clinicians since the early days of the pandemic. .

Each of the three generics has been touted as a possible COVID-19 drug, most notably ivermectin, which has garnered a cult following during the pandemic despite well-documented issues with flawed science that have, in some cases, fraudulently touted the drug’s benefits. However, to date, none have been shown in robust clinical trials to actually help treat people with COVID-19.

A long-awaited, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study conducted by Duke University School of Medicine and funded by the United States concluded in June that ivermectin could reduce the duration of symptoms in COVID-19 patients with mild to moderate forms does not improve the disease. The same research found that the drug did not reduce hospitalizations or deaths.

Some of the same University of Minnesota researchers last year applied to the FDA to clear fluvoxamine as a COVID-19 treatment based on previous clinical data. The regulator declined to grant an emergency use authorization this spring, saying the data didn’t show the drug’s ability to treat COVID-19.

At least for metformin, there is a possible ray of hope in the study results. When the researchers looked at the study’s secondary endpoints, they found that metformin reduced emergency room visits, hospitalizations, or deaths by 40%, although the pill showed no effect on hypoxemia. However, the researchers say more studies need to be done before clinicians start prescribing metformin for their COVID-19 patients.

“We are very pleased that our study adds to the knowledge we are gaining in the context of this pandemic in this virus,” Bramonte said. “At this point, some doctors may see our results and see metformin as an easily accessible treatment for some patients. However, as a medical researcher, I see the need for further studies to replicate these findings as the primary outcome of a study.

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