Researchers led by King’s College London have found that there is no evidence for or against the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen for patients with novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
The study, published in the journal ‘ecancermedicalscience’, also found other types of drugs, such as TNF blockers and JAK inhibitors, used to treat arthritis or other forms of inflammation, safe to use.
“This pandemic has led to challenging decision-making about the treatment of COVID-19 patients who were already critically unwell,” said study author Mieke Van Hemelrijck from King’s College London in the UK.
“In parallel, doctors across multiple specialties are making clinical decisions about the appropriate continuation of treatments for patients with chronic illnesses requiring immune suppressive medication,” Hemelrijck added.
For the findings, 89 existing studies on other coronavirus strains such as MERS and SARS, as well as the limited literature on COVID-19, were analysed to find out if certain pain medications, steroids, and other drugs used in people already suffering from diseases should be avoided if they catch COVID-19.
Some patients, for example those with cancer, are already given immunosuppressive drugs — therapies that can lower the body’s immune system — or immunostimulant drugs — therapies that boost it.
According to the researchers, there had been some speculation that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen might make things worse for some COVID-19 patients, but the researchers did not find evidence to support this statement.
Other types of drugs such as TNF blockers and JAK inhibitors, were also found to be safe to use.
Another class of drug known as anti-interleukin-6 agents is being investigated for helping to fight COVID-19, although there is no conclusive proof yet.
The researchers found that low amounts of prednisolone or tacrolimus therapy may be helpful in treating COVID-19.
“Current evidence suggests that low dose prednisolone (a steroid used to treat allergies) and tacrolimus therapy (an immunosuppressive drug given to patients who have had an organ transplant) may have a beneficial impact on the course of coronavirus infections,” said study co-author Dr Sophie Papa.
“However further investigation is needed,” Papa added.
As more people catch the disease, researchers will continue to investigate how it interacts with commonly used medications and make further guidance recommendations.