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New study identifies drugs that are safe to use in COVID-19 treatment

Researchers find no evidence for or against the use of drugs like ibuprofen

Coronavirus

A new study from researchers at King’s College London (KCL) found that there is no evidence for or against the use of non-steroidal inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen in COVID-19 patients.

The study also found that other types of drugs – such as TNF blockers and JAK inhibitors – are also safe to use in the treatment of COVID-19.

The researchers analysed 89 existing studies on other coronaviruses such as MERS and SARS as well as the limited literature on COVID-19, to determine if certain pain medications, steroids and other drugs used by people already suffering from a disease should be avoided if they contract COVID-19.

The study comes following speculation over the use of certain non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, to treat COVID-19, with some saying these drugs can actually make the condition worse.

Earlier this month, French authorities criticised the use of certain anti-inflammatories – namely ibuprofen and cortisone – to treat the novel coronavirus disease.

They warned that widely used over-the-counter anti-inflammatories may actually worsen the infection, adding that patients should opt for paracetamol if they experience a fever instead.

The European Medicines Agency also responded to these reports, and advised that while there is no scientific evidence that drugs like ibuprofen worsen COVID-19, it is closely monitoring the situation.

Certain individuals – such as cancer patients – may already be taking immunosuppressive drugs, which lowers the body’s immune system, or immunostimulant drugs which work to boost the immune system. Healthcare professionals need, therefore, to know which drugs should be stopped if a patient catches COVID-19.

“This pandemic has led to challenging decision-making about the treatment of COVID-19 patients who were already critically unwell,” said Mieke Van Hemelrijck, a cancer epidemiologist at KCL and an author on the paper.

“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,” she added.

The study also found that low doses of prednisolone or tacrolimus therapy could be helpful in the treatment of 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 beneficial impact on the course of coronavirus infections. However further investigation is needed,” said Sophia Papa, a medical oncologist and immunologist at KCL and co-author of the study.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

31st March 2020

From: Research

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