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Participants needed for national study testing ivermectin and other drugs against COVID-19

A study is underway to test the efficacy of existing medications against the coronavirus. UT Health San Antonio says only 14 participants have signed up.

SAN ANTONIO — A study is underway to test the efficacy of existing medications against the coronavirus. UT Health San Antonio says only 14 participants have signed up. Researchers need 15,000 people.

The ACTIV-6 study is being conducted nationwide and UT Health San Antonio is part of the large-scale effort to find new coronavirus treatments. The study is testing three FDA approved medications that are used to treat other health conditions. Researchers want to find out if these drugs can be repurposed to fight coronavirus symptoms.

The first medication being tested is fluticasone, which is an inhaled steroid commonly prescribed for asthma. The second medication is fluvoxamine, which is typically used to treat depress and obsessive compulsive disorder. The third drug that’s part of the study is ivermectin, which is used to treat parasitic infections in humans and to de-worm pets and livestock.

“All 3 of the drugs in the study have one way or another been at least shown to have some efficacy in smaller trials or at least have some theoretical ways they can benefit,” said Dr. Thomas F. Patterson, Professor of Medicine and Chief, Division of Infectious Diseases at UT Health San Antonio.  “Probably one of the most controversial one of the three that’s been studied is ivermectin. A lot of press around ivermectin. Some people have sworn that it’s the latest greatest. In careful clinical trials, those haven’t really been done yet in a large enough way to say it’s safe and effective.”

Dr. Patterson who’s the lead investigator locally said the goal is to find more early treatment options and help people avoid the hospital altogether. He pointed to the Regeneron antibody treatment that can be given as an injection.

“The problem with that is that it’s extremely expensive and the supply’s very limited so it’s obviously very hard for patients who needs it to get those kinds of therapies,” he explained.  

KENS 5 spoke with one of the study participants, Laura Najvar who’s a laboratory manager at UT Health San Antonio. As a researcher for more than 30 years, she understands that data is a powerful tool. Najvar said she was infected with the coronavirus several weeks ago. She experienced coughing, a high-fever, chills and lost her taste and smell. She was chosen to take fluticasone to treat her symptoms for the study.  

“For me, it was kind of a no-brainer situation because I understand the importance,” said Najvar. “Get the data collected to hopefully help establish potential best therapies, safe therapies and more effective therapies for COVID-19.”

People who are interested in the study must be 30 years old or older, tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 10 days and have at least two COVID-19 symptoms for 7 days or less.

There is no cost to participants. If you are selected to take one of the medications, the drugs will be shipped to your home for free. Also, there are no in-person visits to clinics. Participants will be asked to fill out online surveys and speak with a study team member throughout the process.

You can call 833-385-1880 or enroll online.