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Papers of the Week

2020 May 15

Naunyn Schmiedebergs Arch Pharmacol

COVID-19 pandemic and therapy with ibuprofen or renin-angiotensin system blockers: no need for interruptions or changes in ongoing chronic treatments.


Scientists hypothesized that drugs such as ibuprofen or renin-angiotensin system (RAS) blockers could exacerbate the novel coronavirus disease COVID-19 by upregulating the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), which serves as an entry receptor for the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. This hypothesis was taken up by the lay press and led to concerns among doctors and patients whether the use of these drugs was still safe and justified against the background of the pandemic spread of SARS-CoV-2 with an increasing number of cases and deaths. In this article, we summarize what is known about the effect of RAS blockers or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) on the course of COVID-19 disease. In the case of RAS inhibition, we also find evidence for the opposite hypothesis, namely, that RAS inhibition in COVID-19 could be protective. In view of the inconsistent and limited evidence and after weighing up the benefits and risks, we would not currently recommend discontinuing or switching an effective treatment with RAS blockers. NSAIDs should be used at the lowest effective dose for the shortest possible period. The choice of drug to treat COVID-19-associated fever or pain should be based on a benefit-risk assessment for known side effects (e.g., kidney damage, gastrointestinal ulceration).