Northwell Health to test heartburn drug as possible COVID-19 treatment

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New York City-based Northwell Health has initiated a clinical trial to test if famotidine, a common medication for heartburn, can be used to treat COVID-19 patients, according to CNN.

Kevin J. Tracey, MD, president of the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research, research arm of the 23-hospital Northwell Health, told CNN that he and his team decided to begin the trial after reports from China showed that some coronavirus patients taking the drug had better outcomes than those who did not.

Additionally, a computer model created by Alachua, Fla.-based Alchem Laboratories, which was used to make a list of existing medications that could be used to treat COVID-19 patients, showed famotidine had great promise.

Currently, 187 patients have been enrolled in the trial, but Northwell hopes to enroll 1,200.

The patients will receive doses of famotidine that are nine times greater than what a person would usually take for heartburn.

"You should not go to the drugstore and take a bunch of heartburn medicine," Dr. Tracey told CNN.

Dr. Tracey said that it is unclear whether the drug will benefit COVID-19 patients, but if it works, it could be brought to scale relatively easily, as "it's generic, it's plentiful and it's inexpensive."

 

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