A new study has found no evidence that ibuprofen, Xeljanz (tofacitinib) or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), TNF blockers or JAK inhibitors are unsafe for COVID-19 patients.
The media has published widespread speculation that NSAIDs like ibuprofen may be unsafe for COVID-19 patients. The Belgian Federal Agency for Medicines and Health Products even released a statement stating, “It is well known that NSAIDs and corticosteroids can lead to serious complications,” and a French Authorities report implied that ibuprofen hindered COVID-19 patient condition and recovery. The study found no evidence that this was the case, though.
The study also found no evidence that TNF blockers like Humira and Enbrel or JAK inhibitors like Xeljanz, Rinvoq and Olumiant are unsafe for COVID-19 patients.
The study was lead by researchers at King’s College London. The researchers analyzed 89 existing studies on COVID-19 as well as SARS and MERS, diseases caused by other human coronaviruses. The researchers specifically investigated whether any medications showed a pattern of causing adverse reactions in coronavirus patients.
The study was done because it is absolutely critical that doctors know how medications interact with COVID-19.
“This pandemic has led to challenging decision-making about the treatment of COVID-19 patients who were already critically unwell. In parallel, doctors across multiple specialties are making clinical decisions about the appropriate continuation of treatments for patients with chronic illnesses requiring immune suppressive medication,” said cancer epidemiologist Dr. Mieke Van Hemelrijck.
The researchers also found that predinsolone or tacrolimus therapy could be effective coronavirus treatments.
“Current evidence suggests that low dose prednisolone (a steroid used to treat allergies) and tacrolimus therapy (an immunosuppressive drug given to patients who have had an organ transplant) may have beneficial impact on the course of coronavirus infections. However further investigation is needed,” said medical oncologist and immunologist Dr. Sophie Papa.
The study urged caution until further evidence surfaces regarding NSAIDs and corticosteroids in treatment of COVID-19.
A U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announcement in February 2019 said that Xeljanz can increase the risk of blood clots in the lungs or death when taken twice per day at a dosage of 10 mg. An FDA Xeljanz Boxed Warning was later approved in July 2019, warning that an increased risk of blood clots or death could be associated with Xeljanz when taken twice per day for ulcerative colitis. Stroke, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary thrombosis and pulmonary embolism can be caused by blood clots.