By Marissa Perlman

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Over the counter drugs are now being used to treat and maybe even prevent COVID-19.

So which drugs work, and how do you know when to use them?

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ICU’s are still full, the vaccine rollout is slow, and the death toll is high. Now doctors are looking for other ways to treat COVID, so they’re turning to drugs, some you can get at your local pharmacy.

Angelica Zizumbo was surprised to hear there are options.

“I had no idea there was anything out there like this,” she said.

Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, a Professor of Epidemiology and an Infectious Disease Expert, has been studying medicines already on the market to treat coronavirus and he says it’s time to start using them.

“One thing we have to ask is, we have a promising medicine but we don’t have the final phase 3, 1,000 person study, for something that’s safe, should we be trying it?” Klausner said.

One drug people are trying are over the counter nasal sprays like Xlear. New but small studies say the drug can reduce COVID after a single dose.

The idea is simple: cleansing the nose means less of the virus and less of the virus means less of a risk of infection. Dr. Klausner says the virus can still travel through your mouth, and more studies need to be done on this drug.

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“For any kind of nasal spray, I’d need to see the clinical data, in humans,” he said.

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Another drug that Dr. Klausner says is promising is the antidepressant Fluvoxamine. New data shows it could prevent people from getting seriously ill from COVID, curbing hospitalizations.

A two-week course of the drug, which costs about $10 dollars for a bottle with insurance and is FDA approved, is now being considered for patients at high risk. So far, two studies have been done.

Dr. Klausner says these are all treatments you should first talk to your doctor about, and they’re not alternatives to the vaccine. But without a cure, it could be a treatment option.

“In the absence of any therapy whatsoever how much evidence do we need to try something?” Klausner said.

Experts are now studying another drug, used to treat hair and body lice, that’s been found to have anti-viral effects in treating coronavirus.

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All of these studies are still in the early stages. They would need to be approved by the National Institutes of Health COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines group to be recommended on any national level.

Marissa Perlman