NSAIDs safe in COVID-19, study confirms

Concerns were raised early in the COVID-19 pandemic that NSAIDs could worsen the disease. Investigators have now reported findings from the largest study to date.

The largest study to date of hospitalised patients with COVID-19 provides evidence that NSAIDs do not worsen outcomes. | GETTY IMAGES
The largest study to date of hospitalised patients with COVID-19 provides evidence that NSAIDs do not worsen outcomes. | GETTY IMAGES

NSAID use does not lead to higher rates of death or severe disease in patients who are hospitalised with COVID-19, according to an observational study of more than 72,000 people in the UK published in The Lancet Rheumatology.

The prospective cohort study enrolled patients admitted to 255 hospitals in England, Scotland or Wales with a confirmed or highly suspected SARS-CoV-2 infection leading to COVID-19 between January and August 2020.

Of the 72,179 patients included in the study, 4,211 (5.8%) had taken systemic NSAIDs in the 2 weeks before hospital admission.

Analysis showed that around a third of patients (30.4%) who had taken NSAIDs prior to hospital admission for COVID-19 died – similar to the rate in patients who had not taken NSAIDs (31.3%). In patients with rheumatological disease, the use of NSAIDs did not increase mortality.

In addition, patients who took NSAIDs were no more likely to be admitted to critical care, need invasive or non-invasive ventilation, or require oxygen.

The authors acknowledge the study represents only 60% of hospitalised patients in the UK over the time of the study and it did not include patients with severe COVID-19 who were not hospitalised. However, it would be expected that most patients who had severe COVID-19 would have been admitted to hospital and therefore included in the study, the authors said. 

Prof Ewen Harrison, of the University of Edinburgh and lead author of the study, said: 'We now have clear evidence that NSAIDs are safe to use in patients with COVID-19, which should provide reassurance to both clinicians and patients that they can continue to be used in the same way as before the pandemic began.'

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