Coronavirus, no to ibuprofen if infection is suspected? The European Medicines Agency intervenes

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Carlos Laforet Coll
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The European Medicines Agency (EMA) intervened on the issue of the relationship between ibuprofen and worsening of symptoms from Covid-19

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Do ibuprofen as well as cortisone and anti-inflammatories make symptoms of coronavirus infection worse? To raise a fuss on this issue, instilling doubt, was first the French Minister of Health followed by a spokesman for the WHO. Now the opinion of the EMA has also arrived.

The question of the alleged link between ibuprofen (and anti-inflammatories in general) and worsening of symptoms in Covid-19 patients exploded in recent days when, in a tweet, the French Minister of Health, Olivier Veran wrote:

“Taking anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen, cortisone,…) could be a factor in worsening the infection. If you have a fever, take acetaminophen. If you are already being treated with anti-inflammatories or in doubt, ask your doctor for advice ”.


⚠️ #COVIDー19 | Taking anti-inflammatories (ibuprofen, cortisone, etc.) could be a factor in aggravating the infection. In case of fever, take paracetamol.
If you are already on anti-inflammatory drugs or in doubt, ask your doctor for advice.

- Olivier Véran (@olivierveran) March 14, 2020

The conditional was therefore used which, in these cases is a must, given how little we still know about the coronavirus.

In the following days, then, also a spokesman for the WHO had substantially declared the same thing. This is Christian Lindmeier who, at a press conference in Geneva, argued that, although there are currently no studies linking anti-inflammatory drugs to major complications or coronavirus deaths, experts are investigating the possible relationship and, in the meantime:

"We recommend paracetamol, not ibuprofen forself-medication"

Therefore, the situation is different if you have first heard the opinion of a doctor who could instead prescribe anti-inflammatories, on a case-by-case basis.

Before these interventions there was also an article published in the medical journal The Lancet which had advanced the hypothesis that some drugs, including ibuprofen, could have represented a risk for Covid-19 patients who also suffer from hypertension and diabetes. .

Now the European Medicines Agency (Ema) has intervened on the issue with a statement specifying:

"The EMA has become aware of reports, particularly from social media, that raise doubts that taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, could worsen coronavirus disease (COVID-19 ). There is currently no scientific evidence that establishes a correlation between ibuprofen and the worsening of the course of COVID-19 disease. The EMA is closely monitoring the situation and will evaluate all the new information that will be available on this problem in the context of the pandemic ”.

On social media, indeed, a "hoax" had been circulating in recent days regarding this issue. A message attributed to Prof. Pascale of the Galeazzi hospital in Milan which then occurred to be a false. Within this statement it was said precisely not to take ibuprofen and anti-inflammatories in case of Covid-19 infection.

However, the indication remains basically the same: since there is no scientific evidence, at the moment it is not possible to say that these drugs can worsen the symptoms of the new disease but, on the other hand, it is also true that, before taking them, it is always good to seek the advice of your doctor.

However, the EMA in its press release also specifies other important things, both for people who already take these drugs and for health professionals who must evaluate whether or not to prescribe them to their patients:

“At the start of treatment for fever or pain in COVID-19, patients and healthcare professionals must consider all available treatment options, including acetaminophen and NSAIDs. Each medicine has its benefits and risks which are reflected in the information on its products and which should be considered alongside national EU treatment guidelines, many of which recommend paracetamol as the first treatment option for fever or pain " .

and then continues:

“In line with EU national treatment guidelines, patients and healthcare professionals can continue to use NSAIDs (such as ibuprofen) according to the approved product information. Current recommendations require these medicines to be used at the lowest effective dose for the shortest possible period. Patients who have any questions should contact their doctor or pharmacist. There is currently no reason for patients taking ibuprofen to stop treatment, based on the above. This is particularly important for patients taking ibuprofen or other NSAID medicines for chronic disease. "

However, EMA stresses the need to conduct epidemiological studies in a timely manner to provide adequate evidence on any effect of NSAIDs on COVID-19 disease prognosis. We therefore await official news on the matter.

Sources: Ema 

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