Ibuprofen: France says drug may aggravate coronavirus. Experts say more evidence is needed

Health Minister Olivier Veran, who also worked as a neurologist, tweeted on Saturday that "taking anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen, cortisone …) can be a worsening factor for the infection. If you have a fever, you can take paracetamol. on anti-inflammatory drugs or are in doubt, ask your doctor for advice. "

His suggestion was criticized by some health experts, who cited the lack of publicly available evidence suggesting a link between ibuprofen and coronavirus side effects.

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Veran's recommendation came on the same day as the French government reported that "serious side effects" associated with the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – the family of drugs that include ibuprofen – have been "identified with patients affected by COVID-19, in potential or confirmed cases."
"We reiterate that the treatment of fever or pain associated with COVID-19 or other respiratory viral diseases should be paracetamol," the ministry's new guidelines added. Paracetamol is usually known in the United States as acetaminophen.
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Veran's tweet was widely shared, especially in France, and the councils have raised questions about the effect of ibuprofen in treating the virus. CNN has contacted the French Ministry of Health for comment.

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

But other experts suggested that Veran's advice is in line with some countries' general guidelines for anti-inflammatory painkillers such as ibuprofen, although their specific connection to coronavirus is not clear.

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"It's a good reason to avoid ibuprofen, as it can aggravate acute kidney damage caused by serious illness, including severe COVID-19 disease. There is still no widely accepted reason to avoid it for COVID-19," says Rupert Beale , a group leader in the Cell Biology of Infection at Britain's Francis Crick Institute, told Britain's Science Media Center.

Paracetamol & # 39; generally preferred & # 39; rather than ibuprofen

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Ibuprofen, an NSAID, is often used to treat fever, one of the most common symptoms of the virus.

"Most deaths from COVID-19 have been among older people and people with underlying health conditions such as cardiovascular disease. We already know that NSAIDs should be prescribed with caution for people who have underlying health conditions," said Charlotte Warren-Gash, associate professor in Epidemiology, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, sa.

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France already has stricter rules than many other countries for the sale of painkillers, and moved products like paracetamol and ibuprofen behind the counter earlier this year.

The UK's National Institute for Outstanding Health and Care, recommend prescribe the lowest dose of ibuprofen for the shortest duration in patients with underlying conditions, to prevent side effects including heart or kidney problems. The NHS recommends the use of ibuprofen over paracetamol for inflammatory problems such as arthritis, but warns against taking it for extended periods.

"For COVID-19, there is a need for research into the effects of specific NSAIDs among people with different underlying health conditions, which takes into account the severity of infections," Warren-Gash added.

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"In the meantime, it seems sensible to keep paracetamol as the first choice for treating symptoms like fever and sore throat."

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Tom Wingfield, lecturer and consultant at Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, also stated that paracetamol would "generally be preferred" to ibuprofen in most cases.

He said paracetamol is less likely to cause side effects than ibuprofen, which has been shown to cause stomach and kidney irritation in some people.

"The French government's comments do not state whether the advice given is generic" good practice "guidance or specifically related to data coming from cases of COVID-19, but this may become clear over time," he added.

The coronavirus pandemic has led to sweeping restrictions in France and across Europe. landed announced on Saturday it closes restaurants, cafes, cinemas and clubs in an effort to increase social distance.

CNN's Barbara Wojazer contributed with the reporting.

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