Widespread unapproved drug not effective in treating Covid, state-funded Polish study finds

A government-funded study has found that there is still no evidence that amantadine – a drug widely used in Poland to treat COVID-19, although it has not been recommended by any health authority and even endorsed by a government member – is effective at Treatment of people who have the virus.

“It cannot be concluded that amantadine administration affects recovery and reverses the progression of respiratory failure in patients with early-stage COVID-19,” said the Medical Research Agency (ABM), the government agency conducting the research in had given order, with.

The result of the nearly two-year study is consistent with previous results published by ABM a year ago.

The fresh results come from a study conducted by neurologist Konrad Rejdak in Lublin. He has been one of the most vocal advocates of using amantadine – a drug normally used to treat Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis – to treat Covid patients as well.

As recently as November 2022, Rejdak claimed that the results of his study “substantially support the hypothesis of a protective effect of amantadine in early COVID-19 in addition to standard medical care,” reports broadcaster TOK FM.

However, after receiving the final research results, ABM has determined that they now show a significant effect of amantadine on Covid patients. “There was no effect that distinguished the treatment method from a placebo,” Health Minister Adam Niedzielski told TOK FM.

“Based on the results of Professor Konrad Rejdak’s team, the use of amantadine in outpatients cannot be recommended,” added ABM.

Despite the lack of evidence of amantadine’s effectiveness in treating Covid, sales of the drug boomed in Poland during the peak of the pandemic. They were particularly high in areas with the lowest vaccination rates against Covid.

Amantadine was not only recommended by a handful of doctors like Rejdak, but also by Deputy Justice Minister Marcin Warchoł.

In 2020 he said he was “an example” himself that it works, and the following year he wrote to the Secretary of Health to complain about the slow pace of research into its effectiveness.

Sales of unproven Covid treatment soar in Poland’s least vaccinated region

However, many doctors warned that using amantadine to treat Covid was dangerous – not because the drug itself is harmful, but because many chose to take it rather than seek proper treatment. By the time they did, it might be too late.

Its popularity during the pandemic also led to fears that supplies would run out for patients who actually needed the drug, such as those with Parkinson’s disease. This prompted the Department of Health in December 2021 to restrict the availability of amantadine.

Main Photo Credit: Hospital CLINIC/Flickr (under CC BY-ND 2.0)

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