Experts Question French Health Official's Claim That Ibuprofen May 'Aggravate' COVID-19

  • A French health official posted on Twitter that anti-inflammatory medication could be “a factor in aggravating” novel coronavirus infections.
  • His Tweet received more than 42,000 retweets, but some doctors are questioning his advice.
  • Because COVID-19 is a new virus, there is limited research about treatment options, and there is no cure.

A Tweet from a French health official warning against taking anti-inflammatory drugs amidst the novel coronavirus pandemic is drawing scrutiny from other medical professionals this week.

French health minister, Olivier Veran, tweeted on Saturday that taking anti-inflammatory medications like Advil and Motrin “could be a factor in aggravating the infection. In case of fever, take paracetamol. If you are already taking anti-inflammatory drugs, ask your doctor’s advice.”

(FYI: Paracetamol is another word for acetaminophen, a.k.a. Tylenol.)

⚠️ #COVIDー19 | La prise d’anti-inflammatoires (ibuprofène, cortisone, …) pourrait être un facteur d’aggravation de l’infection. En cas de fièvre, prenez du paracétamol.
Si vous êtes déjà sous anti-inflammatoires ou en cas de doute, demandez conseil à votre médecin.

As of now, there is no set treatment for coronavirus. Instead, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends doing “supportive care to help relieve symptoms,” which can include taking medication to reduce a fever.

Richard Watkins, MD, an infectious disease physician in Akron, Ohio, and an associate professor of internal medicine at Northeast Ohio Medical University says he won’t be advising patients to stop taking ibuprofen. “I would not advise people to avoid anti-inflammatories,” says Dr. Watkins, adding, “there is a lot of bad advice and misinformation spreading around.”

Anti-inflammatory medications are recommended “all the time” for other viral illnesses “and COVID-19 is another respiratory virus,” Dr. Watkins says. “The big issue with COVID-19 is people haven’t been exposed to it. Plus, there is no specific treatment or vaccine,” he says.

Dr. Amy Edwards, pediatric infectious disease specialist and associate medical director for infection control at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, also told that there is not enough data to advise people against taking ibuprofen at this time.

Meanwhile Muge Cevik, a researcher at the University of St Andrews Infection and Global Health Division, said on Twitter: “Deeply concerned about this bold statement. There’s no scientific evidence I am aware of that ibuprofen [causes worse] outcomes in #COVID19.”

Deeply concerned about this bold statement by the French MoH with no reference to the claim, which is causingpublic concern. There’s no scientific evidence I am aware of that ibuprofen cause worst outcomes in #COVID19.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of novel coronavirus, call your doctor to determine the best form of treatment.

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