Common anti-depressant pill Luvox shows promise in preventing serious COVID infections

Credit: Volodymyr Tverdokhlib/Shutterstock
Credit: Volodymyr Tverdokhlib/Shutterstock

A commonly prescribed pill — approved more than 13 years ago by the Food and Drug Administration for depression and obsessive compulsive disorder — is showing initial success in preventing people infected with COVID-19 from developing serious symptoms and being hospitalized.

The drug Fluvoxamine, sold by the brand name Luvox, appears to prevent inflammation in the lungs of people infected with COVID-19, which can be fatal.

“What we observed was that all the patients who received Fluvoxamine, none of them had a severe COVID infection that affected their lungs or their respiratory status,” said Dr. Caline Mattar, an infectious disease researcher at Washington University in St. Louis who helped conduct an initial trial of the drug last fall.

Now, Washington University, along with Northwestern University, University of Minnesota, University of Washington and University of Utah, is conducting a larger trial of Fluvoxamine, giving a two-week course of the drug to patients.

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Researchers say there are big advantages to testing existing FDA-approved drugs on COVID patients, also known as “repurposing” the drugs.

“They’ve been around for quite some time, we know they’re safe, they’re available, they tend to be relatively cheaper,” said Dr. Mattar at Washington University.

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