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Could a nasal spray help prevent COVID-19? Looking into the science of CofixRX

Posted at 5:00 AM, Feb 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-15 12:51:58-05

(WXYZ) — A metro Detroit-based company said they've created a nasal spray that can help prevent COVID-19.

It's called CofixRX, and a spokesperson said the product's active ingredient is povidone iodine, a substance often used topically on patients.

The nasal spray was developed by eight board-certified doctors, some right here in Michigan. I tried it for myself, and had no apparent or immediate side effects, just a strong, chemical-like smell.

There are legitimate medical studies backing up its effectiveness, but none of those studies were conducted in humans. It's also being sold at several pharmacies in metro Detroit.

At Notre Dame Pharmacy in Grosse Pointe, CofixRX is a best-seller. Owner Bill Lemanski started carrying it in his store back in December. He said customers make the trip here just to get their hands on it.

"I've got repeat buyers, especially the grandmothers and the mothers who are buying it for their kids at school," Lemanski said.

The active ingredient povidone iodine is an antiseptic that is commonly used on a patient's skin before surgery.

A 2020 study in the Journal of American Medical Association said povidone iodine kills 99.9% of SARS-CoV2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Studies on povidone iodine in a nasal spray application:

The nasal spray itself also contains other ingredients and it has yet to reach the human clinical trial phase.

"I talked some doctor friends, and they say, 'yeah, it makes perfect sense.' Does it guard against or not? We'll never know but it is certainly an up and coming product," Lemanski said.

Beaumont infectious disease expert Dr. Matthew Sims is a self-proclaimed skeptic. Mainly, because the nasal spray hasn't been approved by the FDA and in his opinion, the scientific backing is inadequate.

"It's fair to say you are not recommending these products to patients?" I asked Sims.

"I am not. I am recommending the things that are proven, what do we know prevents it. We know that the vaccine prevents it and that boosters make it even better," Sims said.

CoFixRX packaging is clearly marked with a reminder that the product is not meant to replace vaccines. Kelly Goldberg said she's boosted but isn't opposed to trying alternative treatments and preventatives. Her advice is to do your research.

"I think listening to our scientists and our health experts is the best way to protect ourselves right now," Goldberg said.

The preventative is recommended for people who are in crowded areas where COVID-19 transmission is high.

According to a study from Utah University, it works for up to eight hours and is complemented by the use of masks.

In a statement to 7 Action News, CofixRX's CEO Dennis Kaiser wrote:

"CofixRX Nasal Spray is a safe and scientifically proven over-the-counter Povidone-Iodine nasal spray developed by a team of eight board-certified doctors determined to provide an easily accessible way to combat germs and pathogens. CofixRX Nasal Spray is designed to provide an additional layer of protection against exposures to reduce the likelihood of infection or transmission.

Independent research from Utah State University’s Institute for Antiviral Research confirmed that CofixRX Nasal Spray is highly effective against SARS-CoV-2, the flu and common cold viruses.

Our goal is to provide people with a product that is safe and backed by science to help them feel more at ease, especially in situations where social distancing is difficult.

CofixRX Nasal Spray is produced in an FDA-approved facility in Rochester Hills, Michigan and can be purchased at more than 500 pharmacies, doctors’ offices and health stores across the country.

More information, including a full list of resale locations, can be found at www.cofixrx.com."

CofixRX noted the FDA language which states that: OTC products that meet a monograph’s requirements may be marketed without FDA review.

CofixRX also added, "All over-the-counter products are required to be registered with the FDA. CofixRX nasal spray obtained FDA registration by submitting its formula, label and packaging to the FDA. The FDA does not require approval of the product itself because CofixRX uses concentrations of povidone iodine within the approved standards set by the OTC monograph. Additionally, all other ingredients used in CofixRX nasal spray are generally recognized as safe and effective (GRAS)."

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.