Trial reports encouraging effects of antidepressant

Fluvoxamine, an antidepressant drug, is able to reduce hospitalizations in patients with Covid-19 and at risk of severe forms. This is what concludes a clinical trial published Wednesday.

‘Fluvoxamine, a drug that already exists and has a reduced cost, lowers the risk of needing advanced care in (a) high-risk population’, conclude the researchers who conducted this study published in the Lancet Global Health, a publication linked to the Lancet reference journal but distinct from it.

Fluvoxamine is used as an antidepressant, and also for obsessive-compulsive disorder. The authors of the study conducted trials, in a dozen Brazilian hospitals, to estimate whether it avoids hospitalizations of patients with Covid-19 who receive it quickly.

Previous studies already gave hope that fluvoxamine is of such interest against Covid-19, but they had been carried out on small samples and their methodology made their conclusions very uncertain.

‘Efficient option’

The Brazilian study was carried out on more than 700 patients, compared to an equivalent number of patients on placebo, and without the caregivers knowing what treatment they were administering. These patients presented at least one risk factor: being over 50, smoking, being diabetic, not being vaccinated …

The study measured how many patients in each group were ultimately hospitalized after 28 days, or had to spend more than six hours in an emergency department on one occasion.

In the end, fewer patients treated with fluvoxamine than those on placebo – 11% versus 16% – found themselves in one of these two situations.

‘This study clearly suggests that fluvoxamine is an effective, safe, inexpensive and fairly well tolerated option for treating non-hospitalized Covid-19 patients,’ said researcher Otavio Berwanger, not associated with the trial, in a commentary. also published by the journal.


However, it also points to the limits of the study. It does not allow to conclude on the effect of the drug in reducing deaths and, even in terms of hospitalizations, its conclusions are weakened by the fact of having mixed two criteria.

The authors explain that they also took into account stays in emergency departments because Brazilian hospitals were overloaded by the Covid crisis and could not have taken care of patients who needed it.



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