Coronavirus: Ibuprofen tested as treatment for breathing difficulties in hospital patients

Matt Mathers
Trial will use a liquid capsule form of ibuprofen to treat patients in hospital: POOL/AFP via Getty Images

A trial has been launched in the UK to test whether ibuprofen can help with breathing difficulties in Covid-19 hospital patients.

Scientists hope a modified form of the anti-inflammatory drug and painkiller will help to relieve respiratory problems in people who have more serious coronavirus symptoms but do not need intensive care unit treatment.

Half the patients participating in the trial will be administered with the drug in addition to their usual care, while the other half will receive standard care to analyse the effectiveness of the treatment.

The treatment will not be available to the wider public.

The trial will use a liquid capsule form of ibuprofen rather than the tablets that people can buy in supermarkets and chemists.

Previous studies on animals have suggested that ibuprofen may be effective in treating acute respiratory distress syndrome – a condition seen in patients with serious Covid-19 symptoms.

The team of researchers from London’s Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospital and Kings College London (KCL) hopes that, if successful, the treatment could keep patients off ventilators and reduce hospitals stays.

Professor Matthew Hotopf, one of the team from KCL, said: “This highly innovative therapeutic approach seeks to rapidly advance a potentially important new treatment.

“If successful, the global public health value of this trial result [could] be immense given the low cost and availability of this medicine.”

Prof Mitul Mehta, also of KCL, said: “We need to do a trial to show that the evidence actually matches what we expect to happen.”

Early in the pandemic, some, including the French Health Minister, raised concerns over the use of ibuprofen in treating Covid-19, saying it could exacerbate the effects of the disease.

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However, a review by The Commission on Human Medicines concluded that there is not enough evidence to suggest a link between taking ibuprofen and worsening coronavirus symptoms.

Official guidance from the NHS recommends that people take paracetamol first to treat mild Covid-19 symptoms.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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