New York Hospitals Studying Heartburn Drug With Hydroxychloroquine Against COVID-19

April 27, 2020 Updated: April 27, 2020

Some hospitals in New York are conducting a clinical trial testing the efficacy of famotidine, a common heartburn drug, along with the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine against COVID-19.

The randomized, controlled, and double-blind trial is looking at the safety and effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine alone and in combination with famotidine for treating COVID-19 in hospitalized patients.

While hydroxychloroquine is being studied in multiple trials in the United States and other countries, the clinical study appears to be the first using famotidine against COVID-19 in the nation, the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research, the research arm of Northwell Health, told The Epoch Times in a statement.

Famotidine is the active ingredient in Pepcid, a common heartburn drug. Researchers want to know whether famotidine inhibits COVID-19.

More than 150 patients are enrolled in the trial. The institutes are conducting five other trials on possible treatments for COVID-19, with more than 550 patients enrolled in total, according to the statement.

hydroxychloroquine
An arrangement of hydroxychloroquine pills in Las Vegas on April 6, 2020. (John Locher/AP Photo)

The institutes’ aim is “to conduct scientifically controlled clinical trials to determine what works and what doesn’t work.”

The trial was first reported on in recent days and is not listed on the government’s clinical trials database.

“If we talked about this to the wrong people or too soon, the drug supply would be gone,” Kevin Tracey, a former neurosurgeon in charge of Northwell’s research, told Science Magazine, explaining the secrecy surrounding the study.

The system received $20.7 million from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority on April 14 for the trial.

Researchers were originally only going to study famotidine but included hydroxychloroquine because the drug is being used at hospitals across the United States.

“Is it good science? No,” Tracey said. “It’s the real world.”

Tracey told the magazine that interim results from the first 391 patients will be ready in two or three weeks. A spokesman told The Epoch Times that there’s no timeline yet, but researchers are hopeful results will be available in a few weeks.

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