Does high-dose famotidine improve symptoms in non-hospitalized patients with COVID-19?

Bottom Line:

The study suggests that high-dose oral famotidine results in an improvement of symptoms within 24-48 hours in non-hospitalized COVID-19 patients with minimal adverse effects.

Reference:

Janowitz, T. et al. Famotidine use and quantitative symptom tracking for COVID-19 in non-hospitalised patients: a case series. Gut (2020). https://doi.org/10.1136/gutjnl-2020-321852

Date Published:

4 June 2020

Synopsis:

While most of the research on COVID-19 is heavily focused on management strategies for hospitalized patients, little is known about how to effectively control symptoms within non-hospitalized patients. This study is a case-series that follows 10 patients with COVID-19 who took over-the-counter famotidine, a drug that blocks histamine receptors, that has been widely used to reduce stomach acid production. Patients were asked to rate the severity of five symptoms: cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, headaches and loss of smell. Baseline severity scores were collected, along with day 0, 2, 3, 7 and 14 after starting famotidine. Other recordings including temperature and oxygen levels were included whenever possible. Famotidine was generally well tolerated by all patients and significant improvement of symptom scores were noted within 24-48 hours of starting the medication. Respiratory symptoms including cough and shortness of breath were found to improve faster than symptoms affecting multiple organ systems like fatigue. However, it is important to take into account that since the progression of COVID-19 in non-hospitalized patients is not thoroughly understood, symptom improvement may not be directly related to famotidine but rather simply the natural course of the illness. Further investigations regarding the mechanism of viral action of famotidine is warranted.

Summary by: Eugenia Yeung