Scientists are trying to make sense of whether the over-the-counter painkiller and anti-inflammatory drug, ibuprofen, could help coronavirus patients. A team of researchers from London's Guy's and St Thomas' hospital and King's College is running a trial called "Liberate" to see if the medication could treat breathing difficulties in COVID-19 patients.
Furthermore, they hope that the low-cost drug could keep coronavirus-inflicted patients off ventilators. Reuters reports that the clinical trial will administer ibuprofen to half of almost 230 patients enrolled in the study, in addition to the usual medical care.
Instead of using the usual tablets seen on shelves at drugstores, the trial will utilize a special formulation of the medication. Some people with arthritis already use the same lipid capsule form of the drug to treat their ailment.
Previous studies in animals suggest ibuprofen shows potential in treating acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which is one of the complications of COVID-19. According to Professor Mitul Mehta, a member of the team from King's College London, a clinical trial is necessary to elicit evidence that matches their expectations.
Controversies Surrounding Ibuprofen
During the early stages of the pandemic, numerous concerns about using ibuprofen arose as many thought it could be harmful to them, especially when experiencing mild symptoms of the coronavirus.
The dispute started after Oliver Veran, the French health minister, tweeted that taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen, could worsen coronavirus infection. Furthermore, he advised patients to consider taking paracetamol instead.
His insights on the drug were thought to be influenced by remarks coming from an infectious disease doctor who mentioned four young COVID-19 patients with no underlying health conditions developing severe symptoms after taking ibuprofen.
Moreover, content from the journal Lancet Respiratory Medicine was thought to be the reference for his belief. However, on March 16, the authors released a statement clarifying that they had merely been proposing an impression.
Later on, an analysis by the Commission on Human Medicines quickly concluded that ibuprofen was safe to take for coronavirus symptoms. The commission said that both medications could help with flu-like symptoms and lower temperatures.
People are Going a Different Route to Avoid the Pain-killer
Since the controversy, many people have started avoiding the drug as a result. Ibuprofen, which has been used for many years in treating arthritis, has now been left on shelves in drug stores across the nation.
Sadly, people are now trying to explore alternative routes in treating their painful ailments. Some go for herbs and plants, animal potions, and even industrial degreasers. Answering a report, Sid Dajani, a pharmacist at Hampshire, described how disconcerting it was to see patients endure their pain instead of taking their usual medication. What's worse was that they were trying unproven or dangerous remedies because of their fears.
Echoing the same sentiments, Dr. Taher Mahmud, a consultant rheumatologist from the London Osteoporosis Clinic, shared how it was 'regrettable and concerning' that patients are resorting to faulty and ineffective home remedies.
Furthermore, the researchers of the liberate trial hope to turn the tables around and provide the public with available evidence that ibuprofen is safe and could potentially, in fact, cure coronavirus infections.