A commonly used medicine for treating indigestion could also be a worthy candidate to fight off coronavirus symptoms.
Famotidine is a prescription drug that is sold under various brand names including ‘Pepcid AC’.
The medicine relieves heartburn and acid reflux by reducing the production of stomach acid.
Famotidine dosage can be from 20 to 160 milligram taken up to four times a day.
A study suggests that famotidine can also minimise the symptoms of COVID-19 in patients with mild to moderate symptoms.
A small group of COVID-19 patients, within 24 to 48 hours of taking famotidine, experienced a quick improvement of symptoms and had recovered from the infection in 14 days.
A large clinical trial is going to test famotidine to see if it could be an effective medicine for treating SARS-CoV-2 infection.
The report includes 10 COVID-19 patients aged from 23 to 71 with different ethnicities who started taking famotidine during their sickness.
At the point of taking famotidine, some of them had been experiencing the coronavirus symptoms for 26 days.
Shortness of breath, cough, loss of taste and smell, headache, and fatigue were the common symptoms.
The average dose of famotidine was 80 mg taken three time per day and most recovered in 11 days.
All of them reported that their symptoms were improved less than 48 hours after taking famotidine and most symptoms were gone in 14 days.
All symptoms were improved, but respiratory problems including shortness of breath and cough disappeared much faster than systemic issues like fatigue.
Except for three patients who experienced mild side-effects, the rest did not have any side-effects from taking famotidine.
However, the authors caution:
“Our case series suggests, but does not establish, a benefit from famotidine treatment in outpatients with COVID-19.”
The effect of famotidine on the virus is not clear yet but there is a chance that somehow it disables the virus or changes the immune responses to the virus.
The authors said:
“Clinically, we unreservedly share the opinion that well designed and informative studies of efficacy are required to evaluate candidate medications for COVID-19 as for other diseases.”
Even so, a more detailed clinical trial is already started to look into the combined effect of the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine with famotidine in hospitalized patients with COVID-19.
The authors concluded:
“An outpatient study of oral famotidine that investigates efficacy for symptom control, viral burden and disease outcome and assesses the effects of medication use on long term immunity should be considered to establish if famotidine may be of use in controlling COVID-19 in individual patients while also reducing the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission.”
The study was published in the journal GUT (Janowitz et al., 2020).