MAR 20, 2020 8:24 AM PDT

WHO Says Ibuprofen May Still Work Against COVID-19

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

Since the announcement of a French Health Minister in recent days linking usage of ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs) with more serious cases of coronavirus among younger people, many have stopped using the drug. But now, as it turns out, ibuprofen may not be as bad as previously thought. 

Also known under brand names including Advil and Nurofen, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said that there is currently no clinical information or population-based data against its usage to manage symptoms from the novel coronavirus. The organization said in a statement, “We are also consulting with physicians treating COVID-19 patients and are not aware of reports of any negative effects of ibuprofen, beyond the usual known side effects that limit its use in certain populations."  

Despite this report conflicting advice from the French Health Minister, some are nevertheless asking the public to remain cautious about its usage. For example, Munir Piromohamed, the president of the British Pharmacological Society said it may be better in any case to use other ‘fever relievers’ such as paracetamol and acetaminophen first until more evidence is collected on ibuprofen’s real risk factors. 

He said, “Until we have more information, people should take paracetamol to treat the symptoms of coronavirus, unless they have been told by their doctor that paracetamol is not suitable for them."

This is particularly relevant considering that ibuprofen and other NSAIDs are already cautioned for those with other underlying health conditions. These include kidney disease, heart disease, diabetes, lupus, asthma and even ulcers. 

Meanwhile however, those taking NSAIDs to manage conditions including rheumatoid arthritis and other chronic pain are still advised to continue taking them unless instructed otherwise by a doctor. 

However, beyond this, medical experts also warn that a fever is a natural part of the body’s defence system and that oftentimes, it may be wise not to treat it at all to best allow the body to repair itself. In this case, it is only recommended to take pain relief if the pain caused by a fever becomes extremely uncomfortable. Otherwise, it may just suppress the body’s natural immune response and make matters worse. 


Sources: CBC, NYTimes, FDA

 

 

About the Author
  • Science writer with keen interests in technology and behavioral biology. Her current focus is on the interplay between these fields to create meaningful interactions, applications and environments.
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