Ibuprofen Warning

Our resident infectious disease expert Bruce Phillips has passed along this warning not to use ibuprofen (aka Advil, Motrin, Nurofen, etc.) if you have any possible symptoms of COVID 19. Instead, the recommendation is to use only the prescribed dose (to avoid liver damage) of acetaminophen (aka Paracetamol or Tylenol). Note that after this warning was issued, the World Health Organization (WHO) investigated and rescinded their warning not to use ibuprophen. To keep you informed, we’re passing along the original warning and this link to more info.


Geneva (AFP) - The World Health Organization recommended Tuesday that people suffering COVID-19 symptoms avoid taking ibuprofen, after French officials warned that anti-inflammatory drugs could worsen effects of the virus.

The warning by French Health Minister Olivier Veran 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.

Asked about the study, WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier told reporters in Geneva the UN health agency's experts were "looking into this to give further guidance."

"In the meantime, we recommend using rather paracetamol, and do not use ibuprofen as a self-medication. That's important," he said.

He added that if ibuprofen had been "prescribed by the healthcare professionals, then, of course, that's up to them."

His comments came after Veran sent a tweet cautioning that the use of ibuprofen and similar anti-inflammatory drugs could be "an aggravating factor" in COVID-19 infections.

"In the case of fever, take paracetamol," he wrote.

The French minister stressed that patients already being treated with anti-inflammatory drugs should ask advice from their doctor.

Paracetamol must be taken strictly according to the recommended dose, because too much of it can damage the liver.

The COVID-19 pandemic, which has infected around 190,000 people worldwide and killed more than 7,800, causes mild symptoms in most people, but can result in pneumonia and in some cases severe illness that can lead to multiple organ failure.

Even before the pandemic, French authorities sounded the alarm over serious "infectious complications" linked to the use of ibuprofen, which is sold under various brands like Nurofen and Advil, and other anti-inflammatory drugs.

A spokesperson for British pharmaceutical company Reckitt Benckiser, which makes Nurofen, said in an email statement that the company was aware of concerns raised about "the use of steroids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDs) products, including ibuprofen, for the alleviation of COVID-19 symptoms."

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