©Moira Dolan, MD May 1, 2020
The mental health industry is not going to be left out of the money grab on the wave of this pandemic.
Along with vaccine manufacturers and antiviral drug promoters, psychotropic drug makers are leveraging the general agitation to jump in with a dangerous approach by proposing that a psychiatric drug can fight the disease.
Washington University School of Medicine (St Louis) announced a study of fluvoxamine in less severely ill persons with CoVID. They hope to show that it can suppress the over-vigorous immune response that characterizes cases which progress to severe illness.
They are initiating the study, even though there is strong evidence that antidepressants can be deadly in cases of lung disease.
The study drug fluvoxamine (trade name Luvox, among others) is marketed as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI).
Like all other drugs marketed as SSRIs, fluvoxamine is not selective in that it does not only affect serotonin. It also alters the biochemicals norepinephrine and dopamine.
Similarly, all of the other SSRIs affect norepinephrine and dopamine to a greater or lesser degree.
Furthermore, serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine receptors are not only in the brain, but are placed throughout the body, explaining the wide span of adverse drug effects.
Why is this important? Because CoVID is primarily a respiratory disease, and anti-depressants have been demonstrated to increase death rates from respiratory conditions.
A 2017 report by researchers in Canada described how people with chronic lung disease are affected by psychiatric drugs that are marketed as SSRIs or as SNRIs or by the drugs have both classifications (SSRI/SNRIs).
Over the course of 5 years researchers followed 28,360 patients with a diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) who were new users of these drugs, and compared how they did to comparable COPD patients not on SSRIs. SNRIs, or SSRI/SNRIs.
Community-dwelling COPD patients on the psychiatric drugs had significantly higher rates of hospitalization for COPD or pneumonia, significantly higher rates of emergency room visits for COPD or pneumonia, and significantly higher death rates from COPD or pneumonia, as well as significantly higher deaths rates from all causes.
Death rates from respiratory-specific causes, as well as all causes, were also higher among COPD patients who were nursing home residents newly starting SSRI/SNRI drugs compared to nursing home residents with COPD who were not on the drugs.
Furthermore, fluvoxamine and all SSRIs, SNRIs, and SSRI/SNRIs have a Black Box warning for promoting suicidality.
In addition, the following adverse effects are reported as common with fluoxetine: agitation, nervousness, anxiety, restlessness, sexual dysfunction (including delayed ejaculation, erectile dysfunction, decreased libido), insomnia, excessive tiredness, weakness, tremor, headache, dizziness, palpitations, high heart rate, nausea, vomiting, weight loss, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, indigestion, diarrhea, constipation, excess sweating, and dry mouth.
These well-established facts need to be taken into consideration by Washington University’s Institutional Review Board (IRB), which is formally designated to review and monitor biomedical research involving human subjects.
The IRB review serves an important role in the protection of the rights and welfare of human research subjects. In accordance with FDA regulations, the board has the authority to approve or disapprove research.
Tips for the smart health care consumer: Beware of any advice to start newly on an antidepressant in this time of heightened risk of respiratory infection. Check out this nontoxic approach to prevent serious lung disease from CoVID, from the exercise physiology lab at University of Virginia:
“Regular exercise may reduce the risk of acute respiratory distress syndrome, a major cause of death in patients with the COVID-19 virus, a top exercise researcher reports.”