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Painkiller Indomethacin effective against mild to moderate COVID-19 infection: IIT Madras study

On the fourteenth day, during the follow-up examination, it was found that nearly half of the control group patients had several discomforts while a few indomethacin patients complained only of tiredness.

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A study by the Indian Institute of Technology, Madara has found that Indomethacin, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, is efficient in the treatment of mild and moderate COVID-19 patients. The study was led by Dr. Rajan Ravichandran, an Adjunct Faculty at IIT Madras and Director of Nephrology at MIOT hospitals, and conceptualised and coordinated by Prof. R. Krishna Kumar, Institute professor, IIT Madras.

With over 20 lakh prescriptions every year in the United States, Indomethacin is an established drug widely used since the 1960s to treat various types of inflammations. The Indian scientists are the first to show the efficacy of indomethacin through a randomised clinical trial. Although, the scientific basis has been researched by Italian and US scientists.

While addressing a press conference on Friday, Dr. Rajan Ravichandran an Adjunct Faculty at IIT Madras and Director of Nephrology at MIOT Hospitals, said, “Knowing that one of the deadly effects of the COVID infection is inflammation and the cytokine storm, we decided to study the non‐steroidal anti‐inflammatory drug, Indomethacin. The scientific evidence strongly shows the anti-viral action against Coronavirus. Indomethacin is a safe and well-understood drug. I have been using it in my profession for the past thirty years.”

According to the researchers, out of a total of 210 admitted patients, 107 were randomly allocated to a control group, treated with paracetamol and standard care of treatment. 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.

The researchers found that none of the 103 patients who received indomethacin developed oxygen desaturation. While 20 of the 109 patients from the control group were desaturated with oxygen saturation levels below 93 percent. During the study, the patients who were given Indomethacin recovered from all symptoms in three to four days while it took double the time for those who didn’t take the drug. Meanwhile, the scientists also informed that there was no adverse effect on Liver and kidney function tests.

On the fourteenth day, during the follow-up examination, it was found that nearly half of the control group patients had several discomforts while a few indomethacin patients complained only of tiredness.

“We had not conducted this study in the omicron wave but we conducted this study on a fairly large number of people. The interesting thing is after the vaccination, we are not seeing any severe cases so the majority of them seem to improve on their own. A similar pattern has been observed in the omicron wave,” Dr. Rajan Ravichandran told Financial Express.com.

Dr. Ravichandran also informed us that Indomethacin works with all variants. and he hopes that ICMR takes note of this study and includes indomethacin in COVID-19 treatment protocol.

On how this drug is different from WHO’s recently approved baricitinib and sotrovimab, Dr. Ravichandran told Financial Express.com: “These drugs are very expensive and targetted therapies but Indomethacin is a very simple drug. The majority of the patients don’t require such expensive drugs for COVID-19. Also, it has been found that these expensive monoclonal drugs are ineffective against the omicron variant.”

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