GPs should advise patients with suspected coronavirus (Covid-19) to use paracetamol rather than ibuprofen to treat their symptoms, rapid guidance from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has said.
In guidance on managing symptoms in the community, NICE said ‘until there is more evidence, paracetamol is preferred to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for patients with COVID‑19’.
It follows advice from the Government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance that people would be ‘sensible’ to take paracetamol rather than ibuprofen for Covid-19.
Questions had been raised about the use of ibuprofen for managing Covid-19 after some scientists warned that findings of a study published in the BMJ in 2013 suggested it may worsen symptoms.
And France’s health minister Olivier Véran, who is a qualified doctor, tweeted that anti-inflammatory medicines including ibuprofen and cortisone ‘could be a factor in aggravating the [Covid-19] infection’.
The rapid NICE guideline advises that patients should take paracetamol but only if they have fever and other symptoms that it would help.
And says doctors should tell patients taking anti-pyretics ‘to continue only while the symptoms of fever and the other symptoms are present’.
But patients taking an NSAID for a long-term condition such as rheumatoid arthritis should not stop treatment, NICE stressed in a separate rapid guidance on rheumatological disorders.
NICE also advises encouraging patients with cough to avoid lying on their back and to honey in the first instance with the option for codeine linctus in those whose cough is distressing.