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Heartburn Med Pepcid as Coronavirus Treatment? Trump Admin’s $21 Million Research Fizzles Aside


U.S. President Donald Trump arrives to attend a information convention within the Rose Backyard on the White Home in Washington, U.S., July 14, 2020. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

In mid-April, the Trump administration funded a examine of famotidine, the primary ingredient in Pepcid, regardless of an absence of printed knowledge or research to counsel heavy doses can be efficient towards the novel coronavirus.

A virtually USD 21 million government-funded examine to see if a well-liked, over-the-counter heartburn medicine could possibly be a COVID-19 treatment has fizzled amid allegations of conflicts of curiosity and scientific misconduct, in line with interviews, a whistleblower criticism and inner authorities data obtained by The Related Press.

In mid-April, the Trump administration funded a examine of famotidine, the primary ingredient in Pepcid, regardless of an absence of printed knowledge or research to counsel heavy doses can be efficient towards the novel coronavirus. When authorities scientists discovered of the rapidly produced proposal to spend tens of millions in federal funding on the analysis, they thought of it laughable.

Now, the Pepcid mission faces an unsure future. Northwell Well being, the New York well being care supplier employed to conduct the testing at its hospitals, put the trial on maintain resulting from a scarcity of hospitalized COVID-19 sufferers in that state.

Northwell is partnered with Alchem Laboratories, the Florida-based pharmaceutical firm that acquired the contract. The Pepcid mission underscores what critics describe because the Trump administration’s informal disregard for science and anti-corruption guidelines — laws meant to protect towards taxpayer {dollars} going to political cronies or funding tasks that are not primarily based on extra rigorous science.

It was harshly criticized by a authorities whistleblower, Rick Vivid. He filed a criticism accusing a senior administration well being official of dashing the deal by means of with out the scientific oversight obligatory for such a big federal award. The federal government had little or no knowledge on which to base a funding determination about Pepcid and COVID-19, critics say; there was no high-grade analysis on famotidine’s coronavirus-fighting potential to underpin a medical trial involving a whole lot of sufferers.

“The proof used to assist the trial is extraordinarily weak,” mentioned Dr. Steven Nissen, a Cleveland Clinic heart specialist and a frequent adviser to the Meals and Drug Administration. “And I have been very essential of this method to the COVID-19 epidemic, which I’ve likened to throwing spaghetti on the wall and seeing what sticks. I take into account trials like this one to be largely a waste of money and time.”

Northwell Well being spokesman Matthew Libassi declined to touch upon Vivid’s whistleblower criticism. “With respect to the famotidine trial, we’re assured it’s primarily based on sound science,” he mentioned.