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Not enough evidence to prohibit the use of ibuprofen in connection with COVID-19

by Maxime Dubé - June 14, 2020   417 Views   2 min
Not enough evidence to prohibit the use of ibuprofen in connection with COVID-19

Claim

People who have Covid-19 should not take ibuprofen

Verdict

Inaccurate as a whole (with reservations)

In March 2020, the newspaper Le Figaro sounded the alarm against taking Ibuprofen (often known as Advil and Motrin) and anti-inflammatory drugs, and suggested that people with COVID-19 use paracetamol (Tylenol, in America). At this time, there is not enough evidence to prohibit the use of ibuprofen in relation to COVID-19. Our verdict, therefore, is that this warning is inaccurate, with some reservations.

The origin of the alarm

After following the thread of a rumour picked up by French health authorities, Le Figaro reported that serious forms of COVID-19 have been reported in healthy young people who have used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen.

In addition, Le Figaro links this to a 2019 warning from France's National Agency for the Safety of Medicines and Health Products (ANSM) on the use of NSAIDs in general, which, according to its research, could increase the risk of infection complications. NSAIDs can mask certain symptoms, which could delay treatment while the infection develops further. As a result, as of January 2020, NSAIDs are no longer available over-the-counter in French pharmacies and are only available upon request.

How strong are the associations put forward by Le Figaro

The alert given by doctors, health authorities and picked up by Le Figaro is based on anecdotal observations that do not consider other possible factors. These observations have not been the subject of controlled studies and have not been validated by other scientists in order to provide an acceptable level of certainty to establish causal links between them. The American hospital-university and research federation, Mayo Clinic, shares in a podcast that on many occasions, the conclusions of anecdotal observations can prove to be the opposite of conclusions obtained once the phenomenon has been observed in a peer-reviewed and validated study. This makes it difficult to link NSAID use with the problems observed.

What do the validated scientific studies show?

The World Health Organization (WHO), Health Canada, and the Ontario Ministry of Health have all reviewed existing studies to reach the same conclusion: there is no validated evidence that taking ibuprofen in patients with COVID-19 increases the risk of developing severe forms of the disease.

WHO conducted a review of the scientific literature and 73 studies on the effect of anti-inflammatory drugs on the severity of other lung diseases similar to COVID-19 and found no association. Health Canada made the same finding after a similar review of the literature.

The WHO and Health Canada intend to monitor the situation closely by analyzing the new information that will be made available to them. In the event of a finding confirming the negative impacts of ibuprofen, the organizations plan to change their guidelines to protect the public.

Why do we have reservations?

Our verdict is that the alert is inaccurate, as it concludes from anecdotal evidence that NSAIDS have negative effects on COVID-19 infection. We must, however, express reservations about this verdict because the question warrants more advanced studies. It is possible that future validated studies confirm the anecdotal observations, in which case the recommendations on use of ibuprofen with COVID-19 will change.

So what to take, and when?

There are cases where ibuprofen is needed for certain chronic conditions. This is why Health Canada recommends that people with chronic diseases continue their anti-inflammatory treatments and do not self-medicate. Stopping these medications abruptly can have harmful consequences. It is important to consult with a health care professional or pharmacist if you are taking anti-inflammatory drugs.


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  Claim

Soline Roy

Person
People who have Covid-19 should not take ibuprofen

Verdict:

Inaccurate as a whole (with reservations)

 June 14, 2020


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