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New York hospitals are testing famotidine to combat coronavirus. What is the drug?

Here’s a look at famotidine and what it means for the coronavirus

Largest US hospitalized COVID-19 patient group data is published. Researchers at Northwell Health, a network of hospitals in and around New York City, have been giving the drug to patients through an IV. The doses have been about nine times higher than the amount found in Pepcid, according to Syracuse.com.
Largest US hospitalized COVID-19 patient group data is published. Researchers at Northwell Health, a network of hospitals in and around New York City, have been giving the drug to patients through an IV. The doses have been about nine times higher than the amount found in Pepcid, according to Syracuse.com.
Credit: Lee Weissman @ Northwell Health, Business Wire

New York hospitals have been testing a new treatment for COVID-19 that is common in heartburn medication, according to ABC News.

What’s going on:

  • Hospitals have been using famotidine, which is an ingredient often seen in Pepcid. Medical experts have been using the drug as a possible treatment for COVID-19, ABC News reports.
  • Specifically, researchers at Northwell Health, a network of hospitals in and around New York City, have been giving the drug to patients through an IV. The doses have been about nine times higher than the amount found in Pepcid, according to Syracuse.com.
  • The drug is reportedly a “decoy” to stop the virus from spreading, ABC News reports.
  • The drug has been offered with hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malaria drug.

How it was discovered:

  • Dr. Kevin Tracey, president of Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research at Northwell Health, told CNN: “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.”
  • Tracey told ABC News that researchers discovered the idea for the drug from his colleague, Dr. Michael Callahan, who conducted a study that showed the drug helped patients with COVID-19.
  • According to Science Magazine, reports from China and some additional models found that drug — “which seems to bind to a key enzyme in severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)” — could make a big difference in treatment.

Remain cautious:

  • Of course, Tracey admitted he doesn’t want to spark any optimism yet about the drug since other brief treatments, like hydroxychloroquine, were highly touted without much research behind it, according to Science Magazine.
  • Tracey said: “If it does work, we’ll know in a few weeks.”