Could a heartburn drug be used to treat coronavirus?

New York researchers study whether famotidine, the active ingredient in Pepcid, can treat for coronavirus. 'Do not do this at home.'

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Nurse administering IV in hospital
Nurse administering IV in hospital

A medication commonly used to treat heartburn, ulcers, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is being tested as a possible treatment for COVID-19.

Hospitals in the New York City area operated by Northwell Health have begun providing patients with intravenous doses of famotidine, the active ingredient in Pepcid. Approximately 187 coronavirus patients have received the treatment so far, Sputnik said.

Those enrolled in the trial are receiving approximately nine times higher a dose than what is usually prescribed, Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research President Kevin Tracey told CNN. He also said he hopes to reach a total of 1,200 trial patients, and that the board monitoring the trial will soon make a decision regarding the continued use of hydroxychloroquine.

All patients in the trial are receiving hydroxychloroquine, and half of them are receiving famotidine as well, with the other half receiving a placebo of saline solution.

"While it is a good heartburn medicine, its effect on virus is completely distant and separate," said Dr. David Battinelli, Northwell Health's Chief Medical Officer told NBC New York. "We have hydroxychloroquine in both arms so all patients will be getting some kind of treatment,"

The idea to test famotidine came after an infectious disease specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital noticed that COVID-19 patients who took famotidine for heartburn survived longer than coronavirus patients who took other medications to treat their heartburn.

Preliminary results are expected in the coming weeks, Tracey told CNN, warning: "You should not go to the drugstore and take a bunch of heartburn medicine."