Over the past few days, social media has lit up with reports, picked up by some media outlets, that taking drugs like ibuprofen to ease COVID-19 symptoms could actually worsen the progress of the illness.
But most infectious disease experts say there's no good scientific evidence at this point to support that claim.
The furor was sparked by a tweet by the French health minister, Olivier Véran, over the weekend. He warned people not to take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDS — a category of pain relievers and fever reducers that includes ibuprofen — because some French COVID-19 patients had experienced serious side effects. The warning was also included in a bulletin from the French health ministry, which counseled that patients should instead use acetaminophen, the generic name for Tylenol.
But the European Medicines Agency issued a statement Wednesday saying that while it is monitoring the situation, there's “currently no scientific evidence establishing a link between ibuprofen and worsening of COVID‑19.”
Dr. Carlos del Rio, a professor of infectious diseases and global health at Emory University's Department of Medicine, agrees. “I think the minister of health of France is wrong [in] prohibiting the use of ibuprofen based on limited data,” he says.