The National Health Service (NHS) England has advised patients to take paracetamol (acetaminophen) who are at home with the symptoms of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Officials said people should take paracetamol as an analgesic or antipyretic as the first choice of drug.
The NHS advice comes after French Health Minister Olivier Véran tweeted that “taking anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen, cortisone…) could be an aggravating factor of the infection.”
The NHS has asked people to watch out for symptoms such as high temperature and continuous cough. The health agency also advised drinking plenty of water and take paracetamol.
The organization stated, “You should drink enough during the day so your urine (pee) is a pale clear color.”
Official advice for patients in the UK was to use paracetamol or ibuprofen, but this has been updated after criticism from clinical experts.
The NHS said, “There is currently no strong evidence that ibuprofen can make coronavirus (COVID-19) worse. But until we have more information, take paracetamol to treat the symptoms of coronavirus, unless your doctor has told you paracetamol is not suitable for you.”
“If you are already taking ibuprofen or another non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) on the advice of a doctor, do not stop taking it without checking first,” it added.
Experts have widely accepted the new recommendation by the NHS.
Prof. Sir Munir Pirmohamed, president of the British Pharmacological Society, said, “There is no consistent evidence to suggest that ibuprofen worsens the disease, but we support the cautious approach as more evidence is collected.”
“Stopping or changing medicines for chronic health conditions without appropriate advice can be harmful,” he added. “Now more than ever, people can look after their own health and support the NHS by following both official guidance and that of their doctor.”
Many experts have pointed out that prolonged use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, could prolong some illnesses, including respiratory, gastric and kidney problems.
Dr. Tom Wingfield from Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine said, “In the UK, paracetamol would generally be preferred over non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen to relieve symptoms caused by infection such as fever.”
“This is because, when taken according to the manufacturer’s and/or a health professional’s instructions in terms of timing and maximum dosage, it is less likely to cause side effects,” he added.
Dr. Rupert Beale from The Francis Crick Institute said, “There is a good reason to avoid ibuprofen as it may exacerbate acute kidney injury brought on by any severe illness, including severe COVID-19 disease. There isn’t yet any widely accepted additional reason to avoid it for COVID-19.”
“Patients taking cortisone or other steroids should not stop them except on advice from their doctor,” Dr. Beale added. “The Society for Endocrinology has issued advice for patients who are taking hydrocortisone or other steroids for pituitary or adrenal deficiency.”