LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 26, 2020) —There is plenty of information floating around the Internet about what medications may or may not be useful to treat symptoms of COVID-19. In this ever-evolving situation, it's important to stay updated with information from reliable sources.
"This is an unprecedented time for the world. The extent of the pandemic, coupled with our digital capabilities, is leading to a tremendous quantity of information reaching both individuals and healthcare workers regarding COVID-19," said Frank Romanelli, a professor and associate dean at the University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy.
It was recently reported that the use of ibuprofen could worsen the severity of COVID-19 for individuals diagnosed with the disease. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) released the following statement:
"At present, based on currently available information, WHO does not recommend against the use of ibuprofen. We are also 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. WHO is not aware of published clinical or population-based data on this topic."
Romanelli said the reports concerning ibuprofen originated in France.
"There is no direct data to support the original negative claims that were circulated, but because of these reports, different outlets are now prospectively collecting data so that, in time, more evidence-based recommendations can be made," Romanelli said.
Reports recommending against the use of NSAIDs, like ibuprofen, advised the use of Acetaminophen (Tylenol®).
"There is no reason not to use acetaminophen for COVID-19," Romanelli said. "In fact, some clinicians might even recommend it first, since it is such an effective drug at reducing fever while causing less gastrointestinal (GI) irritation. The only concerns with acetaminophen are around people with pre-existing liver disease."
There have also been various reports regarding some older antimalarial drugs that may be effective against COVID-19, such as chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine. Others believe people on a very common class of anti-hypertensive medications, known as ACE-inhibitors, might be at increased risk of COVID-19 infection and progression.
Until researchers and healthcare providers have access to more reliable and controlled data, it's in your best interest to seek your physician or pharmacist's advice regarding what medications should or should not be used to treat symptoms of COVID-19.
The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion three years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" two years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers." We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for four straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.