Health experts are weighing in amid rumors that ibuprofen and other anti-inflammatory medication may worsen the infection of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
On Saturday, France’s Health Minister Olivier Véran tweeted that “taking anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen, cortisone, …) could be a factor in worsening the infection” in regard to the coronavirus and urged those with a fever to take paracetamol, or Tylenol, instead.
“If you are already on anti-inflammatory drugs or in doubt, ask your doctor for advice,” Véran added.
But as it turns out, Véran’s advice might not be as factual as expected.
According to Dr. Robert A. Norton, a professor of Public Health at Auburn University, and Dr. William Haseltine, infectious disease expert and Chair and President of the global health think tank, ACCESS Health, there are no current data that prove taking ibuprofen can make the virus worse.
have not seen any data on this,” Norton tells PEOPLE. “The high fever that is associated with the virus is medically serious. High fever can be life-threatening.”
“Individuals experiencing high fever need to immediately contact their medical provider and assiduously follow their guidance,” he continues. “In addition to medication, people experiencing high fever can apply cold compresses to their bodies.
Norton explains that the compresses are often used in hospitals to help patients cope with high fevers and that medical personnel occasionally use ones that circulate cold water and “rapidly bring down core temperature.”
“Having said that, I want to emphasize I am NOT saying that cold compresses are an acceptable substitution for medication,” he adds. “Only a licensed physician can give guidance on medication.”
Haseltine echoed his sentiments, noting that he hasn’t seen any data on the topic and it would require multiple controlled studies in order to determine the drug’s effect on patients.
“The only way you can know that is through a controlled study,” he says. “You can suspect it, but unless you actually do a controlled study on people given an inflammatory and those who aren’t, you can’t tell.”