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COVID-19: ibuprofen can be used for symptoms, says UK agency, but reasons for change in advice are unclear

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UK medicines agencies have changed their advice on ibuprofen to say that the drug can be used to treat patients with symptoms of COVID-19, although the evidence that prompted the revision has not been made public.

The change follows a review by the Commission on Human Medicines’ expert working group on COVID-19 which, along with previous reviews of evidence, concluded that there is currently insufficient evidence to establish a link between use of ibuprofen, or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and contracting or worsening of COVID-19.

The group’s review has not been published, but prompted the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), NHS England, and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) to update their advice to say that patients can take paracetamol or ibuprofen for symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever and headache.

This is a change to NICE’s recommendation on 3 April that paracetamol should be used in preference to NSAIDs for managing fever in patients with suspected COVID-19 until more evidence is available.

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Source: BMJ, 17 April 2020

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