WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- The World Health Organization on Tuesday says that people having COVID-19 symptoms should avoid taking ibuprofen.
- The recommendation was announced after French health officials alarmed the public that ibuprofen could aggravate the effects of the coronavirus.
- WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier said that while UN health experts were “looking into this to give further guidance,” using paracetamol to fight the symptoms is recommended.
The World Health Organization, through its spokesman Christian Lindmeier, recommended avoiding ibuprofen to fight COVID-19 symptoms. The statement on Tuesday came after French Health Minister Olivier Véran issued a warning that anti-inflammatory drugs could worsen the effects of the novel coronavirus.
Véran’s warning followed a study published in The Lancet medical journal that “hypothesized that an enzyme boosted by anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen could facilitate and worsen COVID-19 infections.”
When asked by reporters in Geneva about the study, Lindmeier said that the UN health agency’s experts were “looking into this to give further guidance.”
He added: “In the meantime, we recommend using rather paracetamol, and do not use ibuprofen as a self-medication. That’s important.”
But the UN spokesman noted that if ibuprofen had been “prescribed by the healthcare professionals, then, of course, that’s up to them.”
On Saturday, Véran cautioned about the use of ibuprofen and similar anti-inflammatory drugs on Twitter.
The French minister’s tweet, translated into English, reads “The taking of anti-inflammatories [ibuprofen, cortisone … ] could be a factor in aggravating the infection. In case of fever, take paracetamol. If you are already taking anti-inflammatory drugs, ask your doctor’s advice.”
As of this writing, the COVID-19 pandemic has infected nearly 200,000 people worldwide and killed more than 7,000.
French health officials were already issuing warnings about the serious “infectious complications” linked to the use of ibuprofen — which can be bought under various brands like Nurofen and Advil, and other anti-inflammatory drugs — even before the pandemic broke.
Nurofen manufacturer Reckitt Benckiser said that the British pharmaceutical company was aware of concerns raised about “the use of steroids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDs) products, including ibuprofen, for the alleviation of COVID-19 symptoms.”
The company’s spokesperson said: “Consumer safety is our number one priority,” adding that “ibuprofen is a well-established medicine that has been used safely as a self-care fever and pain reducer, including in viral illnesses, for more than 30 years.”
The emailed statement stressed that Reckitt Benckiser currently does not believe “there is any proven scientific evidence linking over-the-counter use of ibuprofen to the aggravation of COVID-19.”
The company added that they are “engaging with the WHO, EMA (the European Medicines Agency) and other local health authorities” on the issue and would provide “any additional information or guidance necessary for the safe use of our products following any such evaluation.”
Source: Science Alert