HealthDay News — For patients with COVID-19, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are associated with a reduced relative risk for mortality, according to a study published online November 15 in JAMA Network Open.

Tomiko Oskotsky, MD, from the University of California in San Francisco, and colleagues analyzed electronic health records to examine the correlation of SSRIs with outcomes in patients with COVID-19 in a retrospective cohort study. A total of 3401 adult patients with COVID-19 prescribed SSRIs were identified and matched to untreated control patients diagnosed from January to September 2020.

The researchers found that the relative risk for mortality was reduced for patients prescribed any SSRI (14.6 vs 16.6%; relative risk, 0.92; 95% CI, 0.85 to 0.99; adjusted P =.03), fluoxetine (9.8 vs 13.3%; relative risk, 0.72; 95% CI, 0.54 to 0.97; adjusted P =.03), and fluoxetine or fluvoxamine (10.0 vs 13.3%; relative risk, 0.74; 95% CI, 0.55 to 0.99; adjusted P =.04) compared with matched untreated controls. The association was not statistically significant for receipt of any SSRI that is not fluoxetine or fluvoxamine and risk for death (15.4 vs 17.0%; relative risk, 0.92; 95% CI, 0.84 to 1.00; adjusted P =.06).

“These findings suggest that SSRIs, if proven effective, could be a therapeutic option to reduce mortality among patients with COVID-19,” the authors write.


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One author disclosed financial ties to Aria Pharmaceuticals. The author of the editorial is listed as an inventor on a patent application related to methods of treating COVID-19 and disclosed ties to Lundbeck.

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