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Possible Vaccine: Famotidine on Test for COVID-19 Drug

Heartburn remedy Famotidine is currently on a test as a COVID-19 potential vaccine.

Some hospitals in New York are testing the famous heartburn over-the-counter drug Famotidine as a remedy against the COVID-19. Famotidine joins the many proposed vaccines for the coronavirus disease as researchers and scientists work together to find a potential drug.

It was on April 7 when COVID-19 patients at Northwell Health in New York started to take Famotidine intravenously, nine times more than the heartburn dose. The drug was being given in combination with the hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial drug.

The trial was set privately to secure a research stockpile. “If we talked about this to the wrong people or too soon, the drug supply would be gone,” said Kevin Tracey, CEO and president of the Feinstein’s Institute for Medical Research at Northwell Health.

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Kevin Tracey, CEO and president of the Feinstein’s Institute for Medical Research at Northwell Health (irishamerica.com)

According to Tracey, the idea came from a friend and colleague Dr. Michael Callahan. DR. Callahan was said to recently visit China and was working with Chinese physicians on a still-unpublished study. The famotidine shows that the drug benefited patients with COVID-19.

Tracey assured that the trial was supported by additional research, part of a private-public partnership with the federal government, making use of genetic makeup of the virus to identify potentially promising drugs.

“There are many examples in the history of medicine where a drug that was designed for one purpose turns out to have an effect in another disease,” said Tracey.

Famotidine oral tablet or Pepcid is available as a generic drug. It also comes as a liquid suspension taken by mouth, and is an injectable form that is only given by a healthcare provider. Famotidine is used to relieve symptoms of acid reflux and heartburn. It does this by reducing the amount of acid in your stomach.

“It’s generic, it’s plentiful and it’s inexpensive,” Tracey said. But he also emphasized that the drug might not work.”We don’t know if it has any benefit. We really don’t. I swear we don’t. People are hoping for anything. But we need to do this clinical trial,” Tracey added.

There are also side effects of Famotidine, of course. For adults, Famotidine may cause headache, dizziness, constipation and diarrhea, but this is experienced occasionally, said the Healthline. Serious side effects like heart rate and rhythm, muscle, neurological, liver and skin problems are also rare to be experienced.

“If it does work, we’ll know in a few weeks,” said Tracey.