Time to Stop Using Ineffective Covid-19 Drugs

2 September 2022

The editorial, ‘Time to Stop Using Ineffective Covid-19 Drugs’, published in the New England Journal of Medicine calls for rigorous, randomised controlled clinical trials to provide unquestionable evidence on the efficacy of new treatments.  The authors, Salim Abdool Karim and Nikita Devnarain call for journals to publish the results of inefficacious drugs as physicians continue to prescribe Covid-19 interventions that are not evidence-based – this despite the WHO guidelines on Therapeutics and Covid-19.

The editorial, based on the publication of Bramante et al.6, examines the results of the COVID-OUT randomized, controlled trial of oral metformin, ivermectin, and fluvoxamine for the early treatment of SARS-CoV-2 infection in 1323 outpatients. The investigators found no reliable evidence of reductions in hypoxemia, emergency department visits, hospitalization, or death associated with any of the three drugs. The editorial raises alarm that inappropriate prescription of these drugs for Covid-19 would lead to shortages for patients who need the medications for other medical conditions; denying patients with Covid-19 appropriate treatment; and side effects without any therapeutic benefit. The study provides additional data on these interventions, which are ineffective in preventing progression to severe disease. 

Denying appropriate treatment for Covid-19 is wrong. The editorial highlights the need for evidence-based medical practice and an end to misinformation on ineffective Covid-19 interventions.

For further reading see: Abdool Karim SS, Devnarain N. Time to Stop Using Ineffective Covid-19 Drugs. NEJM. 2022; 387(7):654-655https://doi.org/10.1093/infdis/jiac333