Should I stock up on heartburn medication?

No, you should not stock up on heartburn medication. There was a review of studies examining whether famotidine (the active ingredient in Pepcid) is useful to treat COVID.  The review showed that famotidine had no benefit in preventing serious illness or death in COVID patients.  Another recent study found that famotidine may reduce the risk of death in hospitalized COVID patients.  But this study was not a clinical trial where patients are randomized to receive treatment or placebo.  There are some clinical trials that are ongoing that will help us understand if famotidine is useful in treating COVID-19. But for now there is no strong evidence that shows a benefit of taking this medication to fight COVID.     

Additionally, in some of the clinical trial’s patients are being given doses of famotidine that are much, much higher than anyone would take to treat heartburn. Like all medications, this drug can be harmful when it’s taken in quantities above its recommended dose, and it could hurt patients with certain medical conditions.

So, while famotidine is being tested for treatment of COVID-19, you should not rush to the pharmacy to buy heartburn medication. You should not self-treat with famotidine if you have COVID.   You should take heartburn medicine only as directed—that is, to treat heartburn.

If you, or someone you know, is concerned that you have taken more than the recommended dose of a heartburn medication, contact Poison Control: 1-800-222-1222.

Last update: September 24, 2021, 2:20 PM

Science Review: GSN, ERS