A cheap antidepressant significantly reduced the likelihood of severe COVID-19 or hospitalization from the disease for high-risk people, a new study found.
The trial results, published Wednesday in the journal Lancet Global Health, found that among 1,500 Brazilian patients, those who took the antidepressant pill called fluvoxamine were less likely to develop severe COVID-19 or require hospitalization.
Fluvoxamine, sold under the brand name Luvox, is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor that is often used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression. However, Dr. Angela Reiersen, an associate professor of psychiatry at Washington University in St. Louis who worked on the study, said fluvoxamine could affect inflammation.
“Fluvoxamine may reduce the production of inflammatory molecules called cytokines, that can be triggered by SARS-CoV-2 infection,” Reiersen said in a statement, CNN reported.
The antidepressant would cost $4 for a 10-day course of treatment, the researchers said.
The researchers gave 741 volunteers with COVID-19 100 mg of fluvoxamine twice a day for 10 days while 756 volunteers got a placebo. Among the patients who got fluvoxamine, 79, or 11%, needed treatment in an emergency room or hospital room, compared to about 16% of those given placebos.
Plus, there was a 5% decrease in absolute risk and a 32% decrease in relative risk, CNN reported.