Effect of famotidine on hospitalized patients with COVID-19: A systematic review and meta-analysis

PLoS One. 2021 Nov 4;16(11):e0259514. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0259514. eCollection 2021.


Introduction: Famotidine is a competitive histamine H2-receptor antagonist most commonly used for gastric acid suppression but thought to have potential efficacy in treating patients with Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The aims of this systematic review and meta-analysis are to summarize the current literature and report clinical outcomes on the use of famotidine for treatment of hospitalized patients with COVID-19.

Methods: Five databases were searched through February 12, 2021 to identify observational studies that reported on associations of famotidine use with outcomes in COVID-19. Meta-analysis was conducted for composite primary clinical outcome (e.g. rate of death, intubation, or intensive care unit admissions) and death separately, where either aggregate odds ratio (OR) or hazard ratio (HR) was calculated.

Results: Four studies, reporting on 46,435 total patients and 3,110 patients treated with famotidine, were included in this meta-analysis. There was no significant association between famotidine use and composite outcomes in patients with COVID-19: HR 0.63 (95% CI: 0.35, 1.16). Across the three studies that reported mortality separated from other endpoints, there was no association between famotidine use during hospitalization and risk of death-HR 0.67 (95% CI: 0.26, 1.73) and OR 0.79 (95% CI: 0.19, 3.34). Heterogeneity ranged from 83.69% to 88.07%.

Conclusion: Based on the existing observational studies, famotidine use is not associated with a reduced risk of mortality or combined outcome of mortality, intubation, and/or intensive care services in hospitalized individuals with COVID-19, though heterogeneity was high, and point estimates suggested a possible protective effect for the composite outcome that may not have been observed due to lack of power. Further randomized controlled trials (RCTs) may help determine the efficacy and safety of famotidine as a treatment for COVID-19 patients in various care settings of the disease.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • COVID-19 Drug Treatment*
  • Data Management
  • Famotidine / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Histamine H2 Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Hospitalization*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Observational Studies as Topic
  • Odds Ratio
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Risk
  • SARS-CoV-2


  • Histamine H2 Antagonists
  • Famotidine

Grants and funding

The author(s) received no specific funding for this work.