Skip to main content

Essentia Health will take part in a nationwide clinical trial to see how effective three existing medications are in treating COVID.

The Duluth-based health system announced its inclusion in the double-blind trial Monday, saying the goal of the study is to "evaluate repurposed medications" — meaning drugs already approved by the FDA for other uses — in treating mild or moderate COVID-19.

Among the three drugs that will be trialed is ivermectin, a medication that has become a politicized rallying cry among the anti-vaccine crowd. The drug is approved for use in humans to treat two specific conditions caused by parasitic worms, but health experts and the drug's manufacturer, Merck, have said there is not any concrete evidence it will be effective against COVID.

Yet starting in summer of 2021, demand for ivermectin has skyrocketed, with people even seeking out and taking the animal-grade version (something health officials, again, have said is a bad idea since the formulation isn't the same as the human version).

This nationwide double-blind study, part of a COVID treatment effort being led by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, will help answer the question of whether ivermectin is or is not an effective COVID treatment.

The two other medications that will be included in the trial are fluticasone, an inhaled steroid commonly prescribed for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; and fluvoxamine, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), often prescribed for depression, Essentia Health said.

Sign up: Subscribe to our BREAKING NEWS newsletters

“We are very excited and fortunate to have this important clinical trial available to the communities we serve,” said Dr. Rajesh Prabhu, an infectious disease physician at Essentia Health, in the announcement. “If enough people diagnosed with COVID-19 participate in this study, we can answer quickly whether these medications will be beneficial in treating mild-to-moderate COVID. The aim of the study is to see if these medications make you feel better sooner and prevent hospitalization.”

Essentia's role will be to serve as a clinical research site: Referring eligible study participants, then enrolling them and monitoring their progress for 90 days. The trial does not require site visits. Anyone who qualifies and is interested can reach out to Essentia Health here.

Next Up

Train Days

Historic locomotives to roll into St. Paul for Train Days

The festival at the Union Depot returns June 4-5.

Dalton tornado

Tornadoes, large hail, damaging wind possible in Sunday/Monday storms

The Twin Cities is among the areas that could get hit.

Redtail Ridge Elementary

Sunbather on the roof triggers shelter-in-place at Savage elementary school

The sunbather told police he was trying to "tan and relax."


The Raptor Center's ambassador, Nero the turkey vulture, dies at 47

Nero helped save the California condors before taking up his post as an education ambassador.

Ben Leber

Ben Leber named new permanent co-host of 'Twin Cities Live'

The former Minnesota Vikings linebacker was introduced Friday afternoon.


APM Reports, maker of 'In the Dark' podcast, nixed by Minnesota Public Radio

MPR said "select programming elements" of APM Reports will be incorporated into MPR News.

storm, severe

The latest on holiday weekend severe weather chances for MN

The most significant severe threats are Sunday night and again on Monday.

Arianna Vos

Charges: Driver was drunk, high in head-on crash that killed 19-year-old woman

The young woman killed in the crash was a college student studying zoology.


Essentia health

99% of Essentia Health employees vaccinated, but 49 fired over mandate

The employees had until Nov. 1 to be fully vaccinated or apply for an exemption.

us navy flickr hospital covid

MN hospitals issue plea: Don't go to the ER for a COVID test

"Please help us keep our emergency department capacity and staff available for medical emergencies," the association said.

unsplash - visitor patient doctor hospital emergency - crop

Essentia Health details new patient visitors restrictions

The new rules apply to clinics and hospitals in NE Minnesota and NW Wisconsin

blood donor hospital makelessnoise flickr

'Severe' blood shortage has MN health care system worried

The blood supply in the U.S. has reaching worrying levels.

northland hospital covid psa screengrab

Video: 'Exhausted' Northland doctors, nurses issue COVID plea

They helped create a 30-second PSA that will air in the Northland.

Pixabay hospital patient labor

US authorizes emergency use of 2 at-home COVID pills

The treatments are only available by prescription for high-risk individuals.