New York hospitals quietly test popular heartburn drug on COVID-19 patients

April 28, 2020

Researchers in New York are looking to see if the active ingredient in a common heartburn drug could help patients with COVID-19.

The scientists first took an interest in the medication after a study in Wuhan, China showed that many survivors of COVID-19 were taking Pepcid, which contains famotidine as its active ingredient. Overall, the survey of patient outcomes showed that about 14 percent of hospitalized patients taking Pepcid died, compared to 27 percent who were not on the drug.

Now, a team from a division of Northwell Health, which operates 23 hospitals in New York, is running a trial of the drug that will test it in combination with hydroxychloroquine and compare it to results from patients who took hydroxychloroquine alone. The researchers hope to enroll up to 1,200 patients for the study and begin reporting results within the next few weeks.

The belief is that the chemical structure of famotidine helps stop the virus from replicating.

The patients in the study will be given a much higher dose of famotidine than what’s available in its over-the-counter form. Nevertheless, the researchers said they have been cautious about publicly reporting the study due to fears that many could try to stockpile the drug. 

Read the CNN report.