COVID-19 School of Medicine

Doctors test popular anti-depressant to see if it fights off Covid-19

Doctors are running a clinical trial to see if a popular anti-depressant might keep someone from becoming severely ill with Covid-19.

The researchers at Washington University of St. Louis are recruiting 1,100 people in the beginning stages of Covid-19 to test out the drug fluvoxamine, also known as Luvox.
While an anti-depressant may seem like an unlikely candidate to fight Covid-19, a small study in November indicated it might have some success, and it’s been known for years that modern anti-depressants, called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, have anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation plays a key role in Covid-19, resulting in complications such as blood clots and swollen “Covid toes.”

In order to get results in weeks instead of months — an important time difference while thousands are dying of Covid-19 every day – researchers are conducting the study in an unorthodox way. They’re mailing the medicine to patients’ homes around the country, and patients will monitor their health and report back to study staff, instead of having patients go to the researchers.

Lenze said it has gone well so far — with one little hiccup that was easily overcome.
“I have a funny story about a participant in New Hampshire. We shipped him the study medication, and he called saying it got left in a snow drift a quarter mile from his house,” said Dr. Eric Lenze, the study’s principal investigator. “He asked if it was still OK to take it, and we said yes, it’s fine. I’m a veteran of clinical trials, and that was a new one for me.”

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