Essentia Health joins nationwide study to test medications for COVID-19

Study focuses on medicines that are already on the market for other illnesses.


BRAINERD — Essentia Health has joined a nationwide study to evaluate repurposed medications in the search for effective, safe treatments for mild-to-moderate COVID-19.

Repurposed medications are those already approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for other indications.

“We are very excited and fortunate to have this important clinical trial available to the communities we serve,” Dr. Rajesh Prabhu, an infectious disease physician at Essentia Health, said in a news release. “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.”

For patients who don’t require hospitalization, there are two oral prescription medications to treat COVID-19 at home that have received emergency use authorization from the FDA; these are Paxlovid and molnupiravir. They are currently only available for those individuals considered at higher risk for developing a severe case of COVID.

Conversely, Prabhu notes, participation in the ACTIV-6 study is open to anyone ages 30 or older. The medications currently part of the ACTIV-6 study already are approved and considered safe and effective by the FDA for other medical diagnoses. They are:


  • Fluticasone, an inhaled steroid commonly prescribed for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
  • Fluvoxamine, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, often prescribed for depression.
  • Ivermectin, used to treat parasitic infections.

ACTIV-6, “The Randomized Trial to Evaluate Efficacy of Repurposed Medications,” is a double-blind study expected to enroll nearly 15,000 participants from across the United States through its website, , and call center, 833-385-1880.

Potential participants also can call Essentia Health at 866-839-4128 or toll-free at 833-383-1880. Learn more at Essentia Health’s website . 

Web and phone-based enrollment allows people anywhere in the United States diagnosed with COVID-19 as outpatients to help test potential treatments without leaving their home.

To be eligible, participants must be at least 30 years old, have had a positive COVID-19 test within the past 10 days and have at least two symptoms of the illness for seven days or less. Symptoms include fatigue, difficulty breathing, fever, cough, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, body aches, chills, headache, sore throat, nasal symptoms and/or new loss of taste or smell.

Participation involves taking the medication and keeping track of symptoms over 90 days through online surveys. Medications are shipped at no cost to participants, who can take part regardless of whether they live near a research site; no site visits are required.

The study is part of the National Institutes of Health-funded Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines led by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences. The Duke Clinical Research Institute serves as the study’s clinical coordinating center, partnering with Vanderbilt University Medical Center as the study’s data coordinating center.

Essentia Health serves as a clinical research site supporting ACTIV-6 by referring eligible study participants. Essentia Health will enroll and monitor patients’ progress throughout the study’s 90-day follow-up period and will assist them with any or questions or concerns that arise.

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