Heartburn drug trial shows ‘reasonable confidence’ famotidine could help treat coronavirus, hospital CEO says

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Northwell Health CEO Michael Dowling said that scientists working on a drug trial for famotidine, a common heartburn medication, have “a reasonable confidence” that the drug may make a difference in the treatment of Covid-19 patients. 

“It’s one of many trials we’re doing, but we believe in the next two weeks or so we’ll have some potential results to be able to tell whether it’s working or not,” Dowling told CNBC on Tuesday. He said it’s too early to say definitively whether or not it works, but “our scientists have a reasonable confidence in this trial that it may make a difference.”

Dowling said there are approximately 200 patients currently enrolled in the trial, which uses nine times the amount of famotidine that someone would usually take to treat heartburn, as first reported by Science Magazine. Famotidine is a common ingredient found in Pepcid, a heartburn medication. 

The study, which is underway at the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research, the research arm of New York-based health system Northwell Health, was kept under wraps to ensure enough supply for the trial.

“It’s very difficult to get at the moment, I believe Amazon is sold out,” Dowling said. “Because once the word gets out that this is something that could help, obviously there was a run on the supply, but we do have enough to do the trial and do it successfully.” 

The trial is is one of six to seven underway at the hospital, Dowling said. Northwell is also studying whether Regeneron’s sarilumab, a drug for arthritis, and Gilead Sciences’s remdesivir could also help treat coronavirus patients. There are currently no proven therapeutics or vaccines for Covid-19. 

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates. 

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