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UPDATE - Coronavirus: French health minister and WHO issue warning over taking anti-inflammatories

The Local France
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UPDATE - Coronavirus: French health minister and WHO issue warning over taking anti-inflammatories
Photo: AFP

France's health minister Olivier Véran warned the public on Saturday that anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen and cortisone could be an aggravating factor in coronavirus infections.


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"Taking anti-inflammatories (ibuprofen, cortisone...) could be an aggravating factor for the infection," Véran tweeted.

"In case of fever take paracetamol. If you are already on a course of anti-inflammatories or if you are in doubt then consult your doctor," Véran added on Twitter.

His tweet was rapidly retweeted thousands of times with many members of the public asking for further information and a source for his reasoning.

France recently tightened the sale of ibuprofen and paracetamol due to the potential dangers associated with the drugs. The drugs are only sold behind the counter in pharmacies.

Paracetamol must be taken strictly according to the dose, because too high a dosage can be very dangerous for the liver.

Since the announcement the French government has decided to limit the sale of paracetamol in pharmacies due to a rise in demand.

From now on people without symptoms will only be able to buy one box and anyone with sympoms can buy two.

According to Le Figaro newspaper ibuprofen can aggravate existing infections that can lead to "complications".

The newspaper continues: "Inflammation is a normal response from body to infection and it's an alert signal.

"By masking the response of the immune system taking anti-inflammatories can not only impair the body's response but also hide the signs of how serious it can be. This can delay the diagnosis and therefor treatment."

According to Dr Annie Pierre from the centre of pharmacovigilance in Tours: "tests in animals showed that taking ibuprofen encourages the growth of certain bacteria."

Last April France's Medicine's agency ANSM released a report that suggested anti-inflammatories had an aggravating role when it comes to infections."

The French Minister's advice was then backed up by the WHO on March 17th.

The World Health Organization recommended Tuesday that people suffering from COVID-19-like symptoms should avoid self-medicating with ibuprofen.

The warnings followed a recent study in The Lancet weekly medical journal that hypothesised 
that an enzyme that is boosted when taking anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen could facilitate and worsen COVID-19 infections.

Asked about the study, WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier told reporters in Geneva that the UN health agency's experts were "looking into this to give further guidance."

"In the meantime, we recommend using rather paracetamol, and do not use ibuprofen as a self-medication. That's important," he said

On Friday France's Health Minister Veran said: "The spread of the virus across our territory is accelerating, especially in certain regions."

He urged the public to limit contact and travel and to wash hands regularly as the death toll ion the country rose to 79.

"Respect social distancing, acknowledge someone rather than greet them physically, keep a metre distance and limit non-essential travel as well visits to the most vulnerable," he said.



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Comments (1)

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Anonymous 2020/03/15 20:13
I am a paid member in the US. I travel to France regularly. Your articles are always very helpful. Though I am paid. Thank you for taking the paywall down for critical articles.

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