Ontario Independent

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

The province of Ontario is the first to list fluvoxamine as a COVID-19 cure

Key takeaways:

  • The province of Ontario has become the first to list an inexpensive and well-known antidepressant as a treatment that doctors can “consider” for their patients.
  • The study discovered that the observed beneficial effect increased to 65% when patients took all of their medications.

To keep patients with a mild COVID-19 infection out of the hospital, Ontario has become the first province to list an inexpensive and well-known antidepressant as a treatment doctors can “consider” for them.

According to a panel in the science table listing on Wednesday, the drug fluvoxamine can be considered and prescribed to patients with a mild case who are at risk of developing more severe symptoms.

Fluvoxamine is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor that works as an antidepressant (SSRI). It’s frequently prescribed for depression and obsessive-compulsive disorders.

Dr. Menaka Pai, associate professor of medicine at McMaster University and co-chair of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, told CTV News, “Right now, we’re in an unprecedented wave of Omicron, and we have just a staggering number of patients getting infected.” 

Also read: Ontario marked highest case count since late April with 4,383 new COVID-19 cases

“Our goal is to keep them safe, out of the hospital, and to preserve our most valuable resource, which I believe is our hospital beds.”

The drug costs around a dollar per day and is taken for 15 days, starting with a small dose. On the other hand, antiviral medicines from Pfizer and Merck cost nearly $1,000 per patient.

According to studies, the drug can reduce COVID-19-related hospital admissions by up to 30%.

“When you look at all of the data, fluvoxamine likely keeps patients with mild COVID-19 out of the hospital,” Pai said. “So patients who are not yet on oxygen, and if our goal in this wave of the pandemic is to keep COVID patients out of those scarce hospital beds, then I think that is a very important finding.”

For a month, researchers at McMaster University followed over 1,500 COVID-19-positive patients who had not been vaccinated and gave them either the drug or a placebo.

Fluvoxamine is now listed as a COVID-19 treatment for the first time in Ontario
Fluvoxamine is now listed as a COVID-19 treatment for the first time in Ontario. Image from iHeartRadio

10.6% of those who received fluvoxamine needed to see a doctor for more than six hours or were hospitalized, whereas 15.7 percent of those who received a placebo needed to see a doctor for more than six hours or were hospitalized. The study discovered that the observed beneficial effect increased to 65% when patients took all of their medications.

According to Dr. Edward Mills, the trial’s co-principal investigator, the findings could be a game-changer, especially in developing countries with low vaccination rates.

When the study was published in October, he told CTV News, “It’s a very large treatment effect, one that hasn’t been observed for any drug yet.”

The drug has also been approved by Johns Hopkins University for use within seven days of onset of symptoms, as long as the patient is not in the third trimester of pregnancy.

While Ontario is the first province to list the drug as a possible preventative therapy, Pai claims that other regions are also considering it.

While Ontario is the first province to list the drug as a possible preventative therapy, Pai claims that other regions are also considering it.

Source: CTV News

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