Researchers at the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) Madras have found indomethacin — a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug — to be effective as an antiviral agent in the treatment of mild and moderate Covid-19 patients.
Indomethacin, with more than 20 lakh prescriptions per year in the US alone, is an established drug widely used since the 1960s to treat various types of inflammation-related diseases.
To explore the efficacy of indomethacin on inflammation and the cytokine storm – one of the deadly effects of the Covid infection — a team from IIT Madras conducted a randomised clinical trial.
Out of a total of 210 patients admitted with Covid 107 were randomly allocated to a control group, treated with paracetamol and standard care of treatment; and 103 patients were administered indomethacin along with standard care of treatment.
The patients were monitored every day for symptoms such as cough, cold, fever and muscle pain along with oxygen saturation.
None of the 103 patients who received indomethacin developed oxygen desaturation. On the other hand, 20 of the 109 patients from the control group were desaturated with oxygen saturation levels below 93 per cent, according to the results published in the journal Scientific Reports.
Further, patients receiving indomethacin recovered from all symptoms in three to four days. It took double the time for the control group. Liver and kidney function tests showed no adverse reaction.
The fourteenth day follow-up showed that nearly half of the control group patients had several discomforts while just a few indomethacin patients complained of tiredness.
“The scientific evidence strongly shows the antiviral action against coronavirus. Indomethacin is a safe and well-understood drug. I have been using it in my profession for the past thirty years,” said Dr. Rajan Ravichandran, adjunct faculty at IIT Madras and Director Nephrology at MIOT hospitals, in a statement.
The results also support and extend an earlier study that was published in the Journal of the Indian Medical Association.
In the earlier study, 72 patients were administered indomethacin and 72 other patients, paracetamol. This study also showed that only one patient under indomethacin treatment developed hypoxia, compared to 28 in the paracetamol group.
Furthermore, the administration of indomethacin to patients having severe Covid symptoms, prevented the need for ventilation.
“Indomethacin works with all variants. We had done two trials, one in the first wave and the other in the second wave. The results were the same. I sincerely hope ICMR takes note of this study and includes indomethacin in Covid treatment protocol,” Ravichandran said.