Ibuprofen May Worsen Coronavirus Symptoms, WHO Warns

Friday, 20 Mar, 2020

This issue on ibuprofen developed as French Health Minister Veran posted on Twitter a warning against the use of ibuprofen and similar anti-inflammatory drugs in treating COVID-19 patients.

An apparently anonymous WhatsApp voice in German has circulated widely on social media, fuelling debate on a key issue related to treatment of the new Coronavirus.

The firm said all available treatment options, including paracetamol and NSAIDs, should be considered when starting treatment for fever or pain in COVID-19, noting that the European Medicines Agency (EMA), World Health Organisation as well as NHS has stated that there is now no strong scientific evidence linking ibuprofen usage to worsening of COVID-19.

He also said that if ibuprofen had been "prescribed by the healthcare professionals, then, of course, that's up to them", according to a report from Science Alert.

Pharmacies and grocery stores in the Netherlands have begun limiting sales of paracetamol due to shortages caused by stockpiling.

However, there is no confirmed scientific evidence that ibuprofen could worsen coronavirus infections.

He advised those with a fever to use paracetamol, and told people already on anti-inflammatories, or those who are unsure, to seek a doctor's advice.

Furthermore, WHO also stated that ibuprofen and paracetamol should not be used for self medication because it may mask the symptoms of Covid-19. They also agreed that there is no evidence that ibuprofen makes COVID-19 worse.

Paracetamol and acetaminophen are generic names for a chemical substance known as para-acetylaminophenol.

The World Health Organisation said on Wednesday that, based on the now available information, it has not given any recommendation against the use of ibuprofen. World Health Organization added that it is "not aware of published clinical or population-based data on this topic".

The World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended abstention from its use following a recent article in medical journal The Lancet which emphasized that an enzyme boosted by this kind of anti-inflammatory drug could ultimately worsen the effects.

"This is why we have clinical trials to inform our medical decision-making", rather than relying on a few anecdotal cases, says Dr. Krutika Kuppalli, an infectious disease physician and fellow with the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security.

Dr Rupert Beale, Group Leader in Cell Biology of Infection at The Francis Crick Institute, said: "There is a good reason to avoid ibuprofen as it may exacerbate acute kidney injury brought on by any severe illness, including severe COVID-19 disease".

"I have not seen any scientific evidence that clearly shows a totally healthy 25-year-old taking ibuprofen for symptoms of COVID-19 is putting themselves at additional risk of complications", she added.

With researchers still learning about COVID-19 and no approved treatments or vaccine for the disease yet, people should always consult their health care provider for advice on managing symptoms. Paracetamol is being recommended as a sensible alternative.