There is currently no scientific evidence establishing a link between ibuprofen and worsening of COVID-19, the European Medicine Agency (EMA) said in a statement.
In May 2019, EMA’s safety committee (PRAC) started a review of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines ibuprofen and ketoprofen following a survey by the French National Agency for Medicines and Health Products Safety (ANSM) which suggested that infection due to chickenpox (varicella) and some bacterial infections could be made worse by these medicines.
The product information of many NSAIDs already contains warnings that their anti-inflammatory effects may hide the symptoms of a worsening infection. The PRAC is reviewing all available data to see if any additional measure is required.
When starting treatment for fever or pain in COVID-19, patients and healthcare professionals should consider all available treatment options including paracetamol and NSAIDs.
In line with EU national treatment guidelines, patients and healthcare professionals can continue using NSAIDs (like ibuprofen) as per the approved product information.
Further to the ongoing PRAC safety review on ibuprofen and ketoprofen, EMA highlights the need for epidemiological studies to be conducted in a timely manner to provide adequate evidence on any effect of NSAIDs on disease prognosis for COVID-19.
EMA is monitoring the situation closely and will review any new information that becomes available on this issue in the context of the pandemic.
Ibuprofen use safe: US FDA
Later on, the US FDA has also refuted any scientific evidence linking the use of NSAIDs, including ibuprofen, with worsening COVID-19 symptoms.
The agency said the issue is being further investigated and more information will be made public when available.
However, the agency added that all prescription NSAID labels warn that the use of these medicines may diminish the utility of diagnostic signs in detecting infections.
Earlier, the WHO recommended that people suffering COVID-19 symptoms avoid taking ibuprofen, after French officials warned that anti-inflammatory drugs could worsen the effects of the virus.
The warning followed a recent study in The Lancet medical journal that hypothesised that an enzyme boosted by anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen could facilitate and worsen COVID-19 infections.
Soon after, the WHO updated its advice on the official Twitter account: “Based on currently available information, WHO does not recommend against the use of ibuprofen.”