COVID patients on this depression drug are less likely to die

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In a new study from UC San Francisco, researchers found that people taking a class of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), particularly fluoxetine, were much less likely to die of COVID-19 than a matched control group.

The results add to a body of evidence indicating that SSRIs may have beneficial effects against the worst symptoms of COVID-19.

In the study, the team analyzed information from almost 500,000 patients across the U.S.

This included 83,584 adult patients diagnosed with COVID-19 between January and September, 2020. Of those, 3,401 patients were prescribed SSRIs.

The large size of the dataset enabled researchers to compare the outcomes of patients with COVID-19 on SSRIs to a matched set of patients with COVID-19 who were not taking them.

The results showed that patients taking fluoxetine were 28% less likely to die; those taking either fluoxetine or another SSRI called fluvoxamine were 26% less likely to die.

The entire group of patients taking any kind of SSRI was 8% less likely to die than the matched patient controls.

Though the effects are smaller than those found in recent clinical trials of new antivirals developed by Pfizer and Merck, the researchers say that more treatment options are still needed to help bring the pandemic to an end.

It’s important to find as many options as possible for treating any condition. A particular drug or treatment may not work or be well tolerated by everyone.

Data from electronic medical records allow us to quickly look into existing drugs that could be repurposed for treating COVID-19 or other conditions.

If you care about COVID drugs, please read studies about this drug can fully prevent symptomatic COVID-19 infections and findings of this asthma drug can boost recovery in COVID-19.

For more information about COVID drugs, please see recent studies about antipsychotic drugs may help protect against COVID-19 and results showing that scientists find possible COVID-19 drugs—including several FDA-approved ones.

The study is published in JAMA Network Open. One author of the study is Marina Sirota, Ph.D.

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