A Cheap Heartburn Drug Is Being Tested Against the Coronavirus

April 28, 2020

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Some hospitals in New York are giving COVID-19 patients a cheap heartburn medication to see if it's effective against the coronavirus, according to CNN. In a few weeks, preliminary results of the famotidine trial could be released. Famotidine is the active ingredient in the medication Pepcid. "We don't know if it has any benefit. We really don't. I swear we don't," said Dr. Kevin Tracey. "People are hoping for anything. But we need to do this clinical trial." Tracey said the patients in the trial are being injected with famotidine intravenously in mega-doses that are about nine times higher than a heartburn patient would need. "You should not go to the drugstore and take a bunch of heartburn medicine," he said. Tracey and fellow researchers noticed that some low-income COVID-19 patients in China did better than wealthier patients. It turns out, the poorer people were using the cheap famotidine instead of a more expensive drug. Half of the patients in the new trial will be given famotidine with hydroxychloroquine, the medication often touted by President Trump. The other half will be given intravenous saline as a placebo, which has no effect. However, hydroxychloroquine might not be used anymore, as the FDA recently warned against using it in COVID-19 patients. Tracey said he tried to keep news of the study quiet because he wanted to avoid a rush on famotidine that would affect his study and possibly affect the health of those who would be using it improperly.