Do anti-inflammatories treat or feed the Coronavirus?
Common over-the-counter pain relievers that include Ibuprofen are being used to treat symptoms, such as fever and body aches, of COVID-19. However, on March 14, the French minister of health, Olivier Véran, issued a statement recommending that people infected with the coronavirus not use Ibuprofen or Aspirin to treat symptoms of the disease. “Taking anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen, cortisone…) could be an aggravating factor of the infection. If you have a fever, take paracetamol. If you are already on anti-inflammatory drugs or in doubt, ask your doctor for advice,” says Véran.
Advil and Motrin are brands of Ibuprofen. These and other medications such as Aleve, Aspirin, and Celebrex belong to a class of medications called NSAIDS, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. According to Goodrx, these drugs are used to treat pain, inflammation, fever, aches, and other symptoms of viral infections.
Some scientists have argued that NSAIDS weaken the immune system and increase the risk of complications from viral sickness, according to U.S News. However, there is not enough evidence collected about how using Ibuprofen may impact a patient’s experience with COVID-19 or increase the risk of having it.
Fact Check says that even though there are some good reasons for certain patients to avoid NSAIDs generally, such as causing the immune system to weaken, hampering the body’s ability to eliminate pathogens, and promoting inflammation, there is no evidence that ibuprofen or other similar drugs exacerbate the disease.
“There is no reason to think that infected patients should avoid temporary use of ibuprofen,” says Dr. Michele Barry, director of the Center for Innovation in Global Health at Stanford University. “There is no data to back up the contention” she added.
However, some expert organizations like the FDA are trying to investigate further on the matter, according to Drugs by further researching NSAIDS and anti-inflammatories and how they play a role in COVID-19. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is a safer drug because the most severe risk is liver failure from an overdose. As stated by Olivier Véran and Goodrx, it’s a better idea to take Tylenol until there is more evidence on the role of ibuprofen on COVID-19.