The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has brought about severe infections and the death of over 5.6 million people throughout the world.
It has been reported by several studies that fluvoxamine can decrease the risk of severe disease progression in individuals with early SARS-CoV-2 infection.
In March 2021 a widely watched news program presented a report that described the potential benefits of fluvoxamine on COVID-19 infections. Being a repurposed medication, usage of fluvoxamine was advantageous since it was widely available, the safety profiles were known and it was low cost as compared to newly approved medications.
A new study published in the pre-print server medRxiv* examined the changes in the total number of fluvoxamine tablets that were dispensed across retail pharmacies in the U.S. The study hypothesized that the fluvoxamine prescriptions would increase from March 2021 for the treatment of early SARS-CoV-2 infections.
About the study
The study used the IQVIA National Prescription Audit (NPA) Weekly to obtain data on the number of fluvoxamine prescriptions that were dispensed from retail pharmacies from 27 December 2019 to 31 December 2021.
An interrupted time-series analysis on the frequency of dispensed fluvoxamine tablets was carried out. The weekly number of dispensed tablets was compared between two periods, from 27th December 2019 to 3rd March 2021 and from 12th March to 31st December 2021.
The results indicated that the weekly rate of dispensed tablets increased throughout the study period. The weekly number was found to increase by 11.1% from a baseline of 1,586,154 to 1,762,381 by December 2021.
The findings of the current study demonstrate that there has been a modest increase in the use of fluvoxamine for the treatment of COVID-19 following the spread of information by the media.
The increased use of fluvoxamine can be for the treatment of depression which is associated with COVID-19 however the increase was non-linear and took place after increased awareness of its benefits in COVID-19 treatment. Moreover, being an ecological study, the results are preliminary and must be confirmed with additional studies.
medRxiv publishes preliminary scientific reports that are not peer-reviewed and, therefore, should not be regarded as conclusive, guide clinical practice/health-related behavior, or treated as established information.