Recently Olivier Veran, the French Health Minister, has suggested that people should avoid taking anti-inflammatory drugs (like ibuprofen, cortisone, etc.) because they could worsen the symptoms of the Coronavirus infection.
He suggested taking paracetamol in the case of developing a fever.
However, NSAIDs could be a useful ally against Coronavirus and we thought it would be useful to provide further information.
As referenced in the article (1) of the bibliography, written in 2008 by Carla Amici and colleagues, it has been shown that indomethacin (an NSAID similar to ibuprofen) has a direct effect on inhibiting the viral replication of Coronaviruses, both in monkeys and humans. In particular, this has been tested on SARS. The effect appears to be related to the ability of NSAIDs to block the synthesis of viral RNA by 1000 times.
Moreover, ongoing experimental studies with immunosuppressant drugs appear to be very effective in reducing lung inflammation which represents one of the most severe complications of pneumonia caused by Coronavirus.
So far, all the people that we recommended to use NSAIDs rather than acetaminophen sent private messages to me confirming that ibuprofen seems to be much more effective in reducing inflammation and, as a consequence, it alleviates the symptoms related to the virus.
Many other colleagues in A&E departments gave this same type of drug to patients.
Of course, the advice we give is generic and does not replace your doctor’s direct advice; however, this is an approach that should be discussed with your doctor.
For the above reasons, we think that the French health minister’s speech is potentially DANGEROUS and HARMFUL because he openly sided against the use of a drug that appears EFFECTIVE in the treatment of Coronavirus, at least in an experimental environment.
Not surprisingly, after all, it’s the same the whole world over, nobody seems to learn from other’s mistakes. We haven’t learned much from the Chinese, nor the French from the Italians. And the Coronavirus keeps spreading.
Note: on March 17th, the WHO spokesman said that “people should not take ibuprofen without consulting a doctor”; he also specified that “there are NO recent studies linking anti-inflammatory drugs with an increase in the mortality rates”.
As specified above, this idea of ibuprofen being harmful is not supported by any scientific evidence. The advice not to take ibuprofen errs on the side of caution, to avoid excessive use of the drug, which can be potentially harmful. We would like to remind people that paracetamol (on the other hand as recommended by WHO) can be just as harmful in certain patients suffering from liver disease, for example. As we have already said, this implies that using or not using a certain drug is a choice that has to be made by a medical professional after evaluating each individual case.
As far as we are concerned, we have given our opinion on this matter. We would like to repeat that the advice of not using ibuprofen remains an OPINION and it is not to be considered as a RECOMMENDATION until further scientific proof for or against this drug. And, obviously, opinions can be different.
If any scientific study is published that demonstrates the danger of ibuprofen in the treatment of Coronavirus, we will be the first to advise against it or to encourage its use, if the opposite is proven.
On 18th March, the WHO officially declared to not be against the use of ibuprofen.
Marco De Nardin M.D., Anesthesiologist, and Critical Care Doctor