There currently is no evidence which links anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen with the worsening of COVID-19, NHS said on Wednesday.
The agency, however, advised to take paracetamol to treat symptoms of COVID-19, until more information is available, adding that regulatory agencies are reviewing the evidence.
“In view of the current lack of clarity the Committee of Human Medicines (an advisory body of MHRA) and NICE have been asked to review the evidence,” said Stephen Powis, medical director at NHS England.
“It is therefore suggested that, in the interim, for patients, who have confirmed COVID-19 or believe they have COVID-19, that they use paracetamol in preference to NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).”
Powis added that patients already being treated with anti-inflammatory drugs for other medical reasons should not stop them.
Various information is circulating on social media about which medicines to use to help treat the symptoms of #coronavirus.
✅ take paracetamol to treat the symptoms of coronavirus, unless your doctor has told you it’s not suitable for you.
— Department of Health and Social Care (@DHSCgovuk) March 18, 2020
The World Health Organization on Tuesday recommended that people suffering from COVID-19-like symptoms should avoid self-medicating with ibuprofen, after French authorities warned anti-inflammatory drugs could worsen the effects of the virus.
The warnings over the weekend by French Health Minister Olivier Veran, a clinician himself, followed a recent study in The Lancet weekly medical journal that hypothesised that an enzyme that is boosted when taking anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen could facilitate and worsen COVID-19 infections.
Reckitt Benckiser (RB), the makers of Nurofen products, said it is aware of “the ongoing spread of information” concerning the use of NSAIDs including ibuprofen, but requested patients and healthcare professionals to consider each case separately.
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 currently no strong scientific evidence linking ibuprofen usage to worsening of COVID-19.
“Consumer safety is our number one priority. Ibuprofen is a well-established medicine that has been used with a good safety profile as a fever and pain reducer for more than 30 years,” it said.
The EMA on Wednesday said that there currently is no evidence to link anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen with the worsening of COVID-19.
The EU regulator added that it was monitoring the situation, but took a similar tone to RB in suggesting patients and healthcare professionals to consider all treatment options including paracetamol and anti-inflammatory drugs to treat fever or pain in patients with COVID-19.
The COVID-19 pandemic causes mild symptoms in most people, but can result in pneumonia and in some cases severe illness that can lead to multiple organ failure.