An antidepressant excluded by the health authorities from treatments against the disease

Fluvoxamine, an antidepressant, should not be used against COVID-19 In the current state of knowledge, the French health authorities estimated this Tuesday, judging insufficient the few works that go in the direction of a profit. “The data available to date, due to its methodological limitations, do not support a clinical benefit of fluvoxamine as a curative treatment for Covid-19 disease,” the National Drug Safety Agency (ANSM) summarized in a press release. .

Fluvoxamine, widely used as an antidepressant, is one of the few medicines already existing that have given interesting results against severe forms of Covid. Unlike now discredited leads like chloroquine or ivermectin, some credible studies suggest that it may reduce the risk of complications. Such a prospect is particularly interesting because the cost of such a treatment, which has been in circulation for a long time, would be much lower than that of anti-Covid drugs developed specifically for this purpose, such as Pfizer’s Paxlovid pill.

“This position can fully evolve and be revised”

However, according to the ANSM, the current state of knowledge remains insufficient to support such use. “The data available today, and I mean today (…), are not sufficient to support a presumed favorable benefit-risk ratio in this indication,” summarizes Philippe Vella, specialist in antidepressants at the ANSM. Some of the available studies have observed a posteriori that there were fewer complications in patients treated with fluvoxamine, but they do not allow a direct relationship of cause and effect to be established.

Others, more rare, have really tried to estimate the benefits of fluvoxamine, compared to a placebo, but, for the ANSM, they are too seriously biased.

The largest study, carried out in Brazil and published at the end of 2021, has the particular defect of having mixed two evaluation criteria: the risk of staying more than a few hours in an emergency department and the risk of being hospitalized after several weeks. “We are not at the same level of severity in the criteria”, remarked Philippe Vella.

The ANSM also considers that these studies do not sufficiently detail the risk of adverse effects of fluvoxamine. It is true that its use as an antidepressant is well documented, but it would occur at a very different dose and rhythm against Covid. “This position can evolve completely and be revised if new data emerge”, however, Philippe Vella concluded, hoping that larger studies will be implemented.

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