Consumer healthcare products industry body, the New Zealand Self-Medication Industry Association (SMI), endorses the latest communication and stance from the World Health Organization (WHO) in relation to the suitability of ibuprofen as part of the treatment arsenal for the symptoms of COVID-19.
These over-the-counter (OTC) non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in New Zealand have been approved by the Government regulatory body, Medsafe, to reduce fever and temporarily relieve aches and pains.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a statement on Twitter confirming that at present, based on currently available information, it does not recommend against the use of ibuprofen.
This statement comes as a result of a flurry of social media chatter earlier in the week where unsubstantiated and often alarmist comments were shared world-wide questioning the suitability of ibuprofen as a symptomatic relief medicine.
WHO says it is 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. They say they are not aware of any clinical or population-based, published data on this topic.
OTC NSAIDs, including ibuprofen, are well-established and rigorously tested medicines that have been used safely for decades, proving effective for the temporary relief of pain and fever.
Based on all available information, SMI is not aware of any scientific evidence supporting claims made in recent days suggesting that the use of NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen, could affect the health outcomes of COVID-19 patients.
That said, individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 should follow the advice provided by their healthcare professional.
This is consistent with updated NSAIDs medicines advice provided by the European Medicines Agency:
“There is currently no scientific evidence establishing a link between ibuprofen and worsening of COVID‑19.”
“When starting treatment for fever or pain in COVID-19, patients and healthcare professionals should consider all available treatment options including paracetamol and NSAIDs.”
“There is currently no reason for patients taking ibuprofen to interrupt their treatment.”
As always, before using any medicine consumers should read the label, follow the instructions for use (including any label warnings), and seek from advice their doctor or pharmacist if they have any concerns.