Study: Ibuprofen Not Associated With More Severe Coronavirus Symptoms

September 19, 2020 Topic: Health Region: World Blog Brand: Coronavirus Tags: CoronavirusDiseasesPandemicPublic HealthIbuprofen

Study: Ibuprofen Not Associated With More Severe Coronavirus Symptoms

A coronavirus myth has finally been debunked.

Using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) like ibuprofen for pain management have not been found to worsen novel coronavirus symptoms, according to a new study published in the journal PLOS Medicine.

For the study, researchers were able to obtain data on 9,326 Danish residents who tested positive for the coronavirus between February 27 and April 29. Roughly 250 of those individuals, or 2.7 percent, had filled a prescription for NSAIDs within thirty days of their positive test.

Among the users of NSAID pain relievers, the researchers saw that nearly 25 percent needed to be eventually hospitalized, 5 percent required intensive care, and 6.3 percent died.

For comparison, among the non-users, 21 percent were hospitalized, 5 percent needed intensive care, and 6.1 percent died.

“Considering the available evidence, there is no reason to withdraw well-indicated use of NSAIDs during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic,” the authors wrote.

“However, the well-established adverse effects of NSAIDs, particularly their renal, gastrointestinal, and cardiovascular effects, should always be considered, and NSAIDs should be used in the lowest possible dose for the shortest possible duration for all patients.” 

According to Dr. Joseph Poterucha, an ICU physician with the Mayo Clinic Health System in Wisconsin, coronavirus-positive patients still need to be aware of the numerous and sometimes dangerous side effects of NSAIDs.

“I would urge caution to jumping to any conclusions,” he told Healthline. “In certain individuals with chronic medical comorbidities, the burden of this side effect profile in concert with an active coronavirus infection could be detrimental.” 

That is to say, despite the study’s findings, individuals with chronic kidney disease, heart failure, and history of stroke and stomach ulcers should generally avoid taking NSAIDs.

During the early months of the coronavirus pandemic, the World Health Organization, guided by a French study on NSAIDs in March, stated that people who are infected with the virus shouldn’t take ibuprofen.

The agency has since backtracked on that guidance and now says that it doesn’t advise against it.

“At present there is no evidence of severe adverse events, acute health care utilization, long-term survival, or quality of life in patients with COVID-19, as a result of the use of NSAIDs,” the WHO stated in a scientific brief.

Ibuprofen and other NSAIDs are considered to be some of the most commonly used drugs in the United States—with an estimated thirty million doses consumed and seventy million prescriptions administered each year, according to the American College of Rheumatology.

Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.

Image: Reuters.