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Heartburn medication is flying off the shelves at major pharmacies throughout the United States after reports surfaced that an active ingredient in the medicine is being tested as a potential coronavirus treatment.
At the same time, CVS, the largest pharmaceutical chain in the nation, was out of stock of the medicine and other generic forms of famotidine in most of its New York branches, according to Business Insider. Walgreens, which had limited stock in some stores, also ran out in other locations, according to the report.
"In many of our stores, we have been seeing greater demand for certain heartburn medications," a Walgreens spokesperson told FOX Business. "We’re closely monitoring the situation, and continue to work with our supplier partners to best meet the needs of our patients."
A spokesperson for CVS Health confirmed the company was also experiencing high demand for famotidine products such as Pepcid AC, citing both the recall of Zantac and ranitidine products as well as the COVID-19 pandemic as contributing factors.
"We are working aggressively with our suppliers to meet the demand," the spokesperson said. "Stores may experience temporary shortages, and we make every effort to re-supply them as quickly as possible."
Representatives for Amazon did not immediately respond to FOX Business' request for comment.
Famotidine is a histamine H2-receptor antagonist, or H2-blocker, and it works to decrease the amount of acid produced by the stomach to prevent and treat heartburn and other related symptoms. It's commonly sold under the brand name Pepcid.
The lack of medicine came after researchers at The Feinstein Institutes, the research arm of Northwell Health, which is New York’s largest healthcare provider, began testing the famotidine/hydroxychloroquine cocktail to find and address the immediate needs of COVID-19 patients in the hospital.
Northwell began looking into famotidine's potential after infectious disease expert Dr. Michael Callahan visited Wuhan and noticed that patients who were already on the drug appeared to have a better chance of surviving coronavirus.
However, Matthew Libassi, spokesperson for The Feinstein Institutes, is warning consumers against stocking up on Pepcid AC or other generic brands of famotidine.
The dosage in the clinical trial is nine times the heartburn dose of at-home Pepcid, Matthew Libassi, spokesperson for The Feinstein Institutes, told Fox Business on Wednesday, adding that the treatments are being given in a controlled, health care setting.
"We are trying to emphasize 'let the science speak for itself,'" he said. "We don't really know if it will work yet; we are doing our science to determine that in due time."