WHO walks back advice on ibuprofen, having told people with coronavirus symptoms to avoid it and take paracetamol instead
- The World Health Organization tweeted on Thursday that it does not recommend against the use of ibuprofen in treating coronavirus fevers, in an apparent change of course.
- A spokesperson had previously advised that people self-medicating for coronavirus symptoms should instead take paracetamol, according to Agence France-Presse.
- Questions over the use of anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen and cortisone made headlines after the French health minister said in a tweet they could aggravate coronavirus symptoms.
- However, experts disagree about whether this advice was sensible, and people should talk to their doctor before making a decision, as Business Insider reported.
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The World Health Organization has issued new advice on the use of anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen in managing coronavirus symptoms, contradicting an earlier statement which told infected people to use paracetamol instead.
WHO tweeted on Thursday: "Based on currently available information, WHO does not recommend against the use of of ibuprofen."
It added: "WHO is aware of concerns on the use of #ibuprofen for the treatment of fever for people with #COVID19. We are consulting with physicians treating the patients & are not aware of reports of any negative effects, beyond the usual ones that limit its use in certain populations."
This is a change from earlier advice.
A spokesperson for the organization, Christian Lindmeier, was asking in a press conference on Wednesday to address comments from France's health minister that ibuprofen could aggravate a coronavirus infection.
In response, Lindmeier said the WHO was looking further into the matter, and added: "In the meantime, we recommend using rather paracetamol, and do not use ibuprofen as a self-medication. That's important," according to Agence France-Presse.
He added that if ibuprofen had been "prescribed by the healthcare professionals, then, of course, that's up to them."
The disquiet over whether anti-inflammatories can worsen symptoms of the coronavirus was sparked on March 14, after the French Health and Solidarity Minister Olivier Véran tweeted that anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen and cortisone could be an "aggravating factor."
He advised those with a fever to use paracetamol, and told people already on anti-inflammatories, or those who are unsure, to seek a doctor's advice.
Expert reaction to Véran's tweet was mixed. Some medics said there is currently no strong evidence on how ibuprofen affects COVID-19, and others supporting the minister's logic, Business Insider's Anna Medaris Miller previously reported.
In addition, while Véran tweeted about both steroidal (cortisone) and non-steroidal (ibuprofen) anti-inflammatories, these are used differently, and cortisone is not commonly used to treat fevers, according to Dr Tom Wingfield, Senior Clinical Lecturer and Honorary Consultant Physician at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.
Primary care doctor Ernest Brown told Business Insider that people using steroidal anti-inflammatories should talk to their doctor before stopping.
WHO is aware of concerns on the use of #ibuprofen for the treatment of fever for people with #COVID19.- World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) March 18, 2020
We are consulting with physicians treating the patients & are not aware of reports of any negative effects, beyond the usual ones that limit its use in certain populations. pic.twitter.com/X0olC1ESQP
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