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Business News/ News / World/  Generic antidepressant shouldn't be used to treat COVID, advises WHO panel

Generic antidepressant shouldn't be used to treat COVID, advises WHO panel

A panel of experts advising the World Health Organization (WHO) has said that drugs fluvoxamine and colchicine could potentially cause harm

File Photo: The World Health Organisation (WHO) headquarter in Geneva. Photo: AFP Premium
File Photo: The World Health Organisation (WHO) headquarter in Geneva. Photo: AFP 

A generic antidepressant and a gout medicine that garnered some popularity as COVID treatments shouldn’t be used for mild infection because there’s no evidence they help, according to a panel of experts advising the World Health Organization.

The group of experts, in the BMJ medical journal on Thursday, said that the drugs, fluvoxamine and colchicine, could potentially cause harm. Citing lack of data, the panel didn’t give advice for severe infection.

The WHO said that the two medicines are commonly used, inexpensive drugs that have received considerable interest as potential COVID treatments during the pandemic.

Fluvoxamine is used for depression and obsessive-compulsive disorders and has been prescribed for almost 30 years. in a study published in the Lancet Global Health journal last October, The medicine was found to slightly reduce the risk of hospitalization in COVID.

Data from three randomized controlled trials involving over 2,000 patients for fluvoxamine and seven such tests with 16,484 patients for colchicine, said the experts.

According to the agency, the WHO’s decision, however, seem uncertain about how the two drugs would work against COVID in the body, and evidence of little or no effect on survival and other measures such as risk of hospital admission and need for mechanical ventilation. 

Meanwhile, The World Health Organization's chief has warned that fresh waves of COVID infections show the pandemic is "nowhere near over". "New waves of the virus demonstrate again that COVID is nowhere near over," Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference, adding: "As the virus pushes at us, we must push back."

"The virus is running freely and countries are not effectively managing the disease burden based on their capacity, in terms of both hospitalisation for acute cases and the expanding number of people with post-COVID condition, often referred to as Long COVID," he said.

The WHO's emergency committee on COVID met on Friday via video-conference and determined the pandemic remains a Public Health Emergency of International Concern -- the highest alarm the WHO can sound.

The WHO chief's remarks came after India on Wednesday logged 16,906 new coronavirus infections pushing the total tally of COVID-19 cases to 4,36,69,850, according to the Union Health Ministry data. The active COVID cases increased to 1,32,457. The death toll climbed to 5,25,519 with 45 new fatalities, the data stated.

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Published: 14 Jul 2022, 06:05 AM IST
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