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Ibuprofen and COVID-19

Published: 18 Mar 2020 in Society news

The British Pharmacological Society has responded to concerns that the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, could make the symptoms of the novel coronavirus infection, COVID-19, worse. 
 
As COVID-19 is a new disease, evidence about it is still emerging. On 17 March 2020, the NHS updated its advice to include:

  • There is currently no strong evidence that ibuprofen can make COVID-19 worse
  • However, until we have more information, people should take paracetamol to treat the symptoms of coronavirus, unless they have been told by their doctor that paracetamol is not suitable for them
Professor Sir Munir Pirmohamed, the Society's President, said:
 

The NHS has updated its advice to recommend paracetamol rather than ibuprofen to treat some of the symptoms of COVID-19. There is no consistent evidence to suggest that ibuprofen worsens the disease, but we support the cautious approach as more evidence is collected.

Clinical pharmacologists are experts in interpreting the overall balance of risks and benefits of using medicines. Our members are among those working to evaluate and interpret the emerging evidence to support the safe and effective use of medicines during the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
Stopping or changing medicines for chronic health conditions without appropriate advice can be harmful. Now more than ever, people can look after their own health and support the NHS by following both official guidance and that of their doctor.


Official advice
 
Government advice states that if you have any symptoms of COVID-19 (including a high temperature or new persistent cough) regardless of how mild, you should stay at home. If you live alone, this is for at least seven days. If you live with other people, and you or one of them shows symptoms, then the whole household should stay at home for at least 14 days to avoid spreading the infection outside the home.
 
If you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home, or your condition gets worse, or your symptoms do not get better after 7 days, then use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service. If you do not have internet access, call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999.
 
If you are worried about symptoms, please look on the NHS website for more advice. Do not go directly to your GP or other healthcare environment unless instructed to do so by a healthcare professional.