Experts Skeptical of France's Stance Against Ibuprofen as Treatment for COVID-19

TUESDAY, March 17, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Some experts are questioning French health officials' announcements that popular anti-inflammatory painkillers such as ibuprofen could worsen the effects of the coronavirus.

In a tweet Saturday, Health Minister Olivier Veran, who has worked as a neurologist, said that "taking anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen, cortisone...) could be an aggravating factor of the infection. If you have a fever, take paracetamol. If you are already on anti-inflammatory drugs or in doubt, ask your doctor for advice," CNN reported.

The same day, the French government said "grave adverse effects" linked to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) -- the class of drugs that includes ibuprofen -- have "been identified with patients affected by COVID-19, in potential or confirmed cases."

Instead, the health ministry advocated the use of acetaminophen for fever or pain linked to COVID-19.

But some health experts criticized the French stance, noting that there is no publicly available evidence suggesting a link between ibuprofen and adverse effects of the coronavirus, CNN reported.

"Deeply concerned about this bold statement," tweeted Muge Cevik, a researcher at the University of St Andrews Infection and Global Health Division, CNN reported. "There's no scientific evidence I am aware of that ibuprofen [causes worse] outcomes in #COVID19."

"I don't think we've had any firm evidence to suggest that [ibuprofen aggravating COVID-19] is a concern at this point," said Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, professor of pediatrics and infectious disease epidemiologist at Stanford University in California, CNN reported.

"There is a good reason to avoid ibuprofen as it may exacerbate acute kidney injury brought on by any severe illness, including severe COVID-19 disease," Rupert Beale, group leader, of Cell Biology of Infection at the Francis Crick Institute in the U.K., told the U.K.'s Science Media Center, CNN reported. However, he added that "there isn't yet any widely accepted additional reason to avoid it for COVID-19."

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