Many FactCheck.org readers have written in to ask whether ibuprofen or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, can worsen COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Other NSAIDs include over-the-counter painkillers such as naproxen (Aleve) as well as prescription-only pills such as celecoxib (Celebrex), which is used to treat arthritis.
The idea has been circulating on social media and also has been promoted to some degree by a few national governments. While there are some good reasons for certain patients to avoid NSAIDs generally, there is no evidence that ibuprofen — which is sold under the brand name Advil — or other similar drugs exacerbate the disease. Instead, the notion is simply a hypothesis that has not been tested.
There is no evidence that ibuprofen or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can make COVID-19 cases more severe. You should consult your doctor before changing medications.
Much of the hubbub over ibuprofen appears to have started with comments from the French health minister, Olivier Véran, who said in a March 14 tweet that taking anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen “could be a factor in worsening the infection.” He advised people with fevers to take paracetamol, the European name for acetaminophen, or Tylenol, instead. He also suggested that people already taking anti-inflammatories should consult with their physicians.
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