Famotidine is a low-cost, generally safe over-the-counter drug used for the treatment of heartburn symptoms. It is now included among the fast-growing list of a possible treatment for the new strain of coronavirus. Famotidine is now being tested to treat patients hospitalized with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes COVID-19 pandemic.
The randomized, double trial has started in the early month of April with 187 patients in critical status but is expected to expand to a total of 1174 patients including many on ventilators. The potential of intravenous Pepcid as a treatment for the coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19 has been kept under wraps by researchers and hospital systems in the US to be able to secure and maintain a sufficient stockpile of the said drug.
Famotidine is a type of antihistamine that acts in the stomach to decrease the release of stomach acid. It belongs to the class of drugs known as an H2 receptor antagonist. Famotidine is used for the treatment and prevention of peptic ulcers and gastro esophageal reflux disease or GERD. It also treats and prevents too much stomach acid secretion due to the enlargement of the pancreas. As an H2 receptor antagonist, this medicine blocks the histamine receptors found on the cells the lines the stomach. Histamine is a natural chemical produce by the body that normally binds to these receptors. This causes the cells to produce stomach acid.
The effectiveness of this medicine at this point remains unclear. However, there have been unpublished research linking its use to better outcomes on hospitalized COVID-19 patients. The use of this drug as a potential treatment for COVID-19 was first demonstrated in China. It’s used for severe COVID-19 symptoms stemmed from observation in Wuhan that showed an unexpected pattern. Doctors in Wuhan China noticed that many survivors had been suffering from a common secondary condition-chronic heartburn.
Survivors were given the less expensive Famotidine rather than the more-expensive Omeprazole, the medicine of choice for heartburn in the US and among wealthier Chinese.
COVID-19 patients taking the less expensive Famotidine were dying at a rate of 14% compared with 27% for those who do not take Famotidine. Although the result was not statistically significant and the analysis was crude, it caught the interest of many researchers in the US.
High-risk coronavirus patients who took Famotidine regularly in treating gastric reflux fared much better than those who took the more expensive antacid. Patients who took the oral form of Famotidine showed dramatic improvements such as normal oxygen saturation. You can buy Famotidine here.
The race to find the cure
In the race to find a cure for the virus that causes COVID-19, researchers around the world are scouring the formulary and chemical compounds of available drugs to find something they could put to work immediately. Dozens of existing medicines have been put to clinical trials. Some medicines being tested are aimed to protect the lungs, some to disrupt the virus entry into the cells and some to stop it from replicating. Other drugs on trials aimed to aid the immune system’s initial response to the infection and by tamping the immune system when it goes into overdrive. This type of condition has been killing some critically ill coronavirus disease patients. Famotidine, an OTC medication for heartburn, is aimed to treat the heartburn, a common secondary condition among hospitalized coronavirus disease patients.
Famotidine was flagged as a potential treatment for coronavirus disease. The drug is structured in a way that could prevent the virus from replicating in the same way the protease inhibitor does. Researchers have identified Famotidine as a compound capable of binding to a distinctive coronavirus enzyme allowing it to disrupt the action of a virus. The distinctive enzyme of the virus helps the virus replicate. If the virus cannot replicate, the viral level is reduced.
How much to give?
Treatment using Famotidine is 9 times higher than its regular dose in treating patients with heartburn. This mega-dose comes with side effects such as diarrhea, headache, and constipation.
Things to Remember
· Researchers suggest that Famotidine prevents the virus from reproducing. However, without sufficient evidence to support its claim, it is therefore very important to consult with your doctor first before using this medication as this drug can increase your risk of serious health complications. Do not take this unless prescribed by your doctor.
· Patients with any kind of heart condition and kidney problems must use a higher dose of this drug with caution.
· COVID 19 patients with decreased kidney function should not be given a high dose of this medication as this can cause heart problems. This drug can cause electrical changes in the heart that can cause arrhythmia.