Ivermectin among drugs that failed avoiding hospitalization for COVID-19 patients - study

Ivermectin, the popular controversial COVID-19 drug, was roundly disavowed for treatment of the coronavirus by the FDA as well as the CDC.

 FILE PHOTO: A pharmacist holds the anti-parasite drug ivermectin for sale to the public with a medical prescription as Bolivia's Ministry of Health said it can be used under proper medical protocol. Santa Cruz, Bolivia May 19, 2020. (photo credit: REUTERS/Rodrigo Urzagasti/File Photo)
FILE PHOTO: A pharmacist holds the anti-parasite drug ivermectin for sale to the public with a medical prescription as Bolivia's Ministry of Health said it can be used under proper medical protocol. Santa Cruz, Bolivia May 19, 2020.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Rodrigo Urzagasti/File Photo)

A new study has found three generic drugs, fluvoxamine, ivermectin and metformin, have all failed to prevent severe COVID-19 that lands people in the hospital.

Fluvoxamine is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) usually prescribed for depression, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Metformin is used to treat type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes and polycystic ovarian syndrome; it lowers blood sugar by improving the way the body handles insulin according to the UK National Health Service website. 

“None of the medications showed any impact on the primary outcome, which included experiencing low oxygen as measured on an home oxygen monitor.”

Dr. Carolyn Bramonte

Ivermectin, the popular controversial COVID-19 drug, was roundly disavowed for treatment of the coronavirus by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to the FDA website, Ivermectin is used to treat or prevent parasites in animals and can be used to treat parasitic worms, lice and other skin conditions in humans. The formulations for animals are chemically distinct from those meant for humans. 

The FDA website also pointed out that they had "received multiple reports of patients who have required medical attention, including hospitalization, after self-medicating with ivermectin intended for livestock."

 A man holds boxes from the first shipment of Pfizer's oral COVID medicine arrives at Teva's storage facility. (credit: TEVA-SLE) A man holds boxes from the first shipment of Pfizer's oral COVID medicine arrives at Teva's storage facility. (credit: TEVA-SLE)

The study, published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, examined whether any of the three medications were beneficial in the early stages of COVID-19 infection. 

“None of the medications showed any impact on the primary outcome, which included experiencing low oxygen as measured on a home oxygen monitor,” said Dr. Carolyn Bramonte, principal investigator of the study and an assistant professor of internal medicine and pediatrics at the University of Minnesota Medical School.

Silver linings

The MarketWatch website explained that there is one possible silver lining to the study's findings. Researchers found that metformin reduced emergency room visits, hospitalization and death by 40%.  Of course, additional research is needed before it can be prescribed to COVID-19 patients regularly. 

“We’re really happy that our study is adding to the knowledge that we’re gaining around this pandemic in this virus,” Bramonte said. “At this point, there may be physicians who see our results and see metformin as providing easily accessible treatments for certain patients. However, as a physician researcher, I see there’s a need for further study to replicate these results as the primary outcome of a study.”