Coronavirus: French Health Minister issues warning of ibuprofen in Covid-19

Coronavirus: French Health Minister issues warning of ibuprofen in Covid-19

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Does ibuprofen increase the risk of severe corona courses?

As we reported yesterday in our Corona news ticker, the WhatsApp circular, which said that ibuprofen could make corona disease worse, was a fake news. In a voice message, a woman claimed that MedUni Vienna's doctors advised against taking ibuprofen in the course of a coronvirus infection. The drug, which is used for fever and pain, can worsen the course of the disease. The message was then expressly rejected by the MedUni Vienna. However, the connection may not be completely dismissed.

In the voice message, which is currently mainly shared on WhatsApp, an unknown woman said that she had spoken to a friend who works at the Vienna University Hospital. There they had researched why so many people in Italy die from the infection. It was found that the drug ibuprofen worsened the course of an infection. Therefore, it is better to use paracetamol.

According to its own statements, University Hospital Vienna does not conduct research on ibuprofen

However, the university clinic denied the report. A press release states: “Text and voice messages are currently being distributed on various social media networks, which report alleged research results from the Vienna University Hospital on symptoms of Covid 19. The Medical University of Vienna expressly points out that this is fake news that has no connection with the MedUni Vienna. ”

Health Minister warns against taking ibuprofen in case of corona infection

However, the French Minister of Health Olivier Veran now explicitly warns against taking the drug. On Twitter, he wrote: “Taking anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen, cortisone, ...) could be a factor in worsening the infection. If you have a fever, take acetaminophen. If you are already taking anti-inflammatory drugs or have any doubts, ask your doctor for advice. ” How does the minister come to this view?

Researchers hypothesized

In his statement, the health minister refers to an article that appeared three days ago in the renowned science magazine "The Lancet" and found an increased risk of COVID-19 in diabetes. In summarizing the results, the researchers point out that painkillers that inhibit the cell receptor ACE or increase ACE2 are also a risk factor.

"Patients with heart diseases, high blood pressure or diabetes who are treated with ACE2-increasing drugs are at higher risk of serious COVID-19 infections" and when taking so-called ACE inhibitors, therefore, an even more thorough monitoring or, under certain circumstances, a change of the Drug, the research team reports. Since the expression of ACE2 is also increased by the drug ibuprofen, this should also be assessed critically.

Viruses could penetrate more easily - so the assumption

ACE receptors (ACE2) exist on the surface of the cells, to which the ACE enzyme binds. It is precisely these receptors that the Covid-19 pathogens use to penetrate our cells. The ACE inhibitors intercept the ACE enzyme, with the result that the ACE receptors remain free and the virus can penetrate more easily. Even if the number of free receptors or ACE2 increases, for example due to ibuprofen intake, this makes it easier for the viruses to penetrate the cells. According to this hypothesis, ACE inhibitors and the drug ibuprofen could increase the risk of infection.

Just hints but no knowledge

The researchers evaluated three previous studies, including an investigation with 32 deceased Corona people from China, a study with 173 Corona people and comorbidities, and another study with 140 inpatients who were treated. However, the number of people considered is not sufficient to finally draw a conclusion. This is also emphasized by the research team in its specialist article. So far, it was only a "hypothesis".

What does this mean for infected people?

So what does this mean for infected people? In any case, the intake of ACE inhibitors and ibuprofen should be discussed with a doctor. For the French Minister of Health, however, the previous hypothesis was already sufficient to explicitly warn against the drug. Hopefully, researchers will be able to provide further insights in the coming days and weeks. (sb)

Note to editors: In an older version of this article, ibuprofen was wrongly equated with ACE inhibitors, but in fact the drug belongs to the so-called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Lei Fang, George Karakiulakis, Michael Roth: Are patients with hypertension and diabetes mellitus at increased risk for COVID-19 infection? (Accessed: March 15, 2020), The Lancet

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