The University of Kentucky Public Relations & Strategic Communications Office provides a weekly health column available for use and reprint by news media. This week's column is by Frank Romanelli, a professor and associate dean in UK College of Pharmacy.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 20, 2020) — There is plenty of information floating around the Internet about what medications may or may not be useful in treating the symptoms associated with COVID-19. 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. In this ever-evolving situation, it's important to stay updated with information from reliable sources.
It has been 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."
The reports concerning ibuprofen originated early on in France, but no direct data to support the original negative claims that were circulated exists. It's because of these reports, however, that different outlets are now prospectively collecting data so that, in time, more evidence-based recommendations can be made.
There have also been various reports regarding some older antimalarial drugs that may be effective against COVID-19, including chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine. Others believe people on very common classes of anti-hypertensive medications, known as ACE-inhibitors and ARBs, might be at increased risk of COVID-19 infection and progression.
Until researchers and health care 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.
There have also been discussions around the use of multivitamins and other nutritional immune boosters as preventative measures against COVID-19. There is no data to prove that supplement-based immune boosters actually do what they are purported to do, and they may be harmful.
The two most common supplements people have been discussing are Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) and Zinc. Exaggerated amounts of any chemical can be harmful, so if patients do not have a good reason to be using any supplement, they should avoid them. It's also important to note that many nutritional products are not FDA regulated and undergo little to no quality control.
Multivitamins are logical supplements for people who feel they do not have a balanced diet and therefore are not likely to be consuming an adequate level of vitamins and minerals from their meals. In any case, it's critical that you consult your physician or pharmacist before taking anything to treat or prevent COVID-19.
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