The latest COVID-19 treatment? Scientists think it may be older, cheaper drugs.

April 9, 2021

We’ve heard a lot about promising treatments and vaccines for COVID-19 the past year. What we rarely hear, however, is that scientists believe drugs developed years ago to treat other conditions may also be effective –and affordable – treatment options for COVID.

Modern Healthcare reports that fluvoxamine, an antidepressant developed decades ago to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder, has shown promising results. Two small studies, with results published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that the drug prevented serious illness when taken soon after participants developed COVID-19 symptoms.

Even better news? A two-week course of fluvoxamine costs just $10.

Physicians interviewed for the report were quick to point out that drug companies have little incentive to spend millions to test new uses for old drugs. And they say researchers and medical professionals have seen promising treatments emerge before, only to find out that larger studies and trials prove they are not as effective as initially indicated.

“(We) really want to see good studies before we actually jump on the bandwagon,” Dr. Paul Sax, clinical director of the division of infectious diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, told Modern Healthcare.

So far, the National Institutes of Health, the largest funder of biomedical research, has shown little interest in spending money to find out if existing and low-cost drugs may help in the battle against COVID-19.

What do you think? Would you be willing to see taxpayer dollars spent to test existing drugs as COVID remedies? Have you ever participated in a drug trial? Share your comments and experiences here.