A group of researchers found that itraconazole (antifungal) and fluoxetine (antidepressant) can be reused, in conjunction with Remdesivir, to attack the SARS ‐ CoV-2 Coronavirus.
Since the pandemic began, they have sought to develop effective and safe antiviral treatments that minimize the consequences of COVID-19. A quick way to meet this demand is to reuse different drugs.
This led a group of experts from the University of Muenster in Germany to test the antiviral potential of two drugs: itraconazole, an antifungal, and fluoxetine, an antidepressant.
Itraconazole is a medicine used to slow the growth of fungi that cause infections in the lungs, nails, mouth, throat, or esophagus.
Fluoxetine (Prozac) is used to treat depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, some eating disorders, and panic attacks. While fluoxetine (Sarafem) is used to relieve symptoms of PMDD, including mood swings, irritability, bloating, and breast tenderness.
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Both medications can be found in tablet, capsule, or liquid form.
Use with Remdesivir
The new research, published in British Journal of Pharmacology, found after laboratory tests that itraconazole and fluoxetine showed effective antiviral activity against SARS-CoV-2 infection.
However, to achieve this effect, the authors combined each drug with the antiviral Remdesivir, which in late October 2020 became the first drug approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat HIV. COVID-19.
Remdesivir is administered intravenously, and the laboratory that makes it, Gilead Sciences, noted that it should only be used in a hospital or healthcare setting capable of providing acute care comparable to that offered in a healthcare facility.
The final results that were used to approve it, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, noted that people who received Remdesivir recovered within 10 to 11 days, compared with 15 days for those who received only basic care, such as oxygen and hydration through intravenous fluids.
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Regarding deaths from the disease between patients who took Remdesivir and those who did not, no significant differences were found.
Although there is no evidence yet on the effectiveness of itraconazole and fluoxetine in preventing COVID-19 in people, laboratory simulations showed that they managed to decrease the production of infected cells by 90%.
The next step is to carry out clinical trials, although the authors of the study, led by Dr. Ursula Rescher, assume that the combined treatments of itraconazole and fluoxetine together with Remdesivir may offer a superior treatment to inhibit SARS ‐ CoV ‐ 2.
“Preventive vaccination and therapeutic drugs against the disease are necessary to fight pandemics,” said Rescher.
It should be noted that itraconazole and fluoxetine can cause different side effects: heartburn, anxiety, dry mouth, yawning, changes in sexual desire and ability, confusion, weakness, diarrhea, difficulty concentrating, headache, nervousness, nausea, loss appetite and weight, trouble sleeping or staying asleep, excessive sweating, uncontrollable shaking.
Until there is significant scientific evidence from human trials, findings from laboratory tests or preclinical studies should not be viewed as a possible coronavirus therapy.
Remember, seeking COVID-19 treatments outside of expert recommendations not only puts your life at risk but can also hinder the work of healthcare professionals.
Sources consulted: US National Library of Medicine, British Journal of Pharmacology, Mayo Clinic, The New England Journal of Medicine.