World Health Organization now sees no reason to stop taking ibuprofen if you have COVID-19
The World Health Organization has reversed an earlier statement advising people with COVID-19 against self-medicating with ibuprofen, though the French government has maintained its stance, adding to confusion about a drug that’s been bought heavily in recent days.
In a tweet late Wednesday, WHO dialed back statements issued the previous day earlier advising people not to self medicate with ibuprofen, which includes leading brands Advil and Motrin.
“At present, based on currently available information, WHO does not recommend against the use of ibuprofen,” the tweeted statement said. “We are also consulting with physicians treating COVID-19 patients and are not aware of reports of any negative effects of ibuprofen, beyond the usual known side effects that limit its use in certain populations. WHO is not aware of published clinical or population-based data on this topic.”
A day earlier, WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier had told reporters that, while the organization was looking into further guidance, “in the meantime, we recommend using rather paracetamol [also known as acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol] and do not use ibuprofen as a self medication. That’s important.”
In an email today, Lindmeier said the March 17 quote was “taken out of a discussion at a press briefing and referred mainly to consulting your doctor instead of self medicating.”
French Health Minister Olivier Veran, who had previously warned against people using ibuprofen, has not changed that guidance yet. It was based on a study in The Lancet medical journal that hypothesized that anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen could boost an enzyme in the body that makes COVID-19 infections worse
In a statement, GSK, marketer of ibuprofen brand Advil, said: “As a leader in the OTC pain category, GSK Consumer Healthcare is not aware of any conclusive evidence that ibuprofen or other anti-inflammatories may worsen the outcome in patients suffering from COVID-19 infection. This is an emerging and rapidly evolving situation, and because consumer safety is our number one priority, we are closely monitoring statements from public health authorities and medical experts.”
GSK added that ibuprofen “has been used safely for many years as a fever and pain reducer and is strictly regulated to ensure it complies with local healthcare authority requirements.”
Both GSK and Johnson & Johnson, marketer of Motrin and Tylenol, advised people to talk to their doctors about the issue. “Global health authorities will be providing guidance to their citizens regarding the use of certain medications in COVID-19,” J&J said in a statement.
Speaking on the Barstool Sports podcast "Pardon My Take" yesterday, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, pushed back on the theory that ibuprofen could worsen COVID-19 and pointed to a lack of clinical evidence. He added: "The safest thing to get your fever down is Tylenol. Take it as directed."