A role for famotidine and other acid reflux medications in treating COVID-19: A pilot study

Key Messages

An anonymous, web-based survey was distributed via email to adult patients to collect demographic information, past medical history, medication history, incidence of symptoms associated with COVID-19, potential exposure to SARS-CoV-2, and the results of any PCR or serological testing for COVID-19.

The study was looking for any association, positive or negative, between famotidine use and COVID-19 symptoms.

Of the 307 patients who responded to the survey, 15 reported using famotidine without any other drug at an average dose of 33 mg per day.

Patients taking famotidine reported COVID-19 symptoms lasting 6.31 days vs. symptoms lasting 10 days in patients not taking famotidine, however this difference was not considered statistically significant.

This study did not find an association between famotidine use and reduced incidence of COVID-19.

The small number of famotidine-only users (15 patients) makes it difficult to draw any conclusions.

Journal of Voice

Publication Date: January 20, 2021
Peer Reviewed: Yes
Publication Type: Original | Clinical Retrospective
DOI: https://www.doi.org/10.1016/j.jvoice.2021.01.007

Role of Famotidine and Other Acid Reflux Medications for SARS-CoV-2: A Pilot Study

Bailey Balouch, Swetha Vontela, Heather Yeakel, Ghiath Alnouri, Robert T. Sataloff

Abstract

Infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is responsible for the coronavirus-19 disease (COVID-19) pandemic. The H-2 blocker famotidine has been suggested as an FDA-approved drug that could potentially be repurposed for treatment of COVID-19. Famotidine has since been shown to improve patient outcomes and reduce symptom severity in patients acutely ill with COVID-19. Other studies have suggested that proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) might have an association with COVID-19.

Objective:
The purpose of the present study was to determine whether famotidine or any other antireflux medications have a prophylactic or detrimental effect for SARS-CoV-2 infection when taken regularly for the management of acid reflux.

Methods:
An anonymous, web-based survey was distributed via email to adult otolaryngology patients to collect demographic data, past medical history, medication history, incidence of symptoms associated with COVID-19, potential exposure to SARS-CoV-2, and results of any PCR or serological testing. Associations between reflux medications and incidence of COVID-19 cases were analyzed. Statistical analysis was performed using SPSS. Chi-square with Fisher’s exact test, Point-Biserial correlation, Kendall’s-tau-b, independent samples t test, and the Mann-Whitney U test were used as appropriate. A binary logistic regression model was fit to determine probability of COVID-19 cases after adjustment for other risk factors.

Results:
There were 307 patients who responded to the survey. The average age of respondents was 52.63 ± 17.03. Famotidine use was not associated with incidence of laboratory-confirmed (P= 0.717) or symptomatically suspected (P= 0.876) COVID-19. No other reflux medications were found to be significant predictors for laboratory-confirmed or suspected COVID-19 (P> 0.05). Younger age (odds ratio [OR] = 1.043, 95% CI: 1.020-1.065, P< 0.001), high risk obesity (OR = 4.005, 95% CI: 1.449-11.069, P= 0.007), and use of a corticosteroid nasal spray (OR = 3.529, 95% CI: 1.352-9.211, P= 0.010) were significant predictors for symptomatically suspected COVID-19 cases. Conclusions: There was no association between incidence of COVID-19 and use of reflux medications, including famotidine at doses used orally to manage reflux and high dose PPIs. Reflux medications did not protect against or increase the risk of COVID-19.