Ibuprofen is being tested to assess whether it can prevent severe breathing problems in coronavirus patients and reduce the number of people needing treatment in intensive care units.
Researchers at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital and King’s College London are looking at whether “a specific form” of the cheap anti-inflammatory drug can help cut serious side effects from COVID-19, potentially leading to shorter hospital stays.
Ibuprofen has previously been said by politicians in France to worsen the symptoms of coronavirus.
Professor Mitul Mehta has stressed that only hospitalised patients would be involved in the trial – to see if the drug will “reduce the respiratory problems they have”, and not those who are so ill that they need to be in intensive care.
If successful, there would be a “number of benefits”.
He said: “We could reduce the amount of time that someone spends in hospital – they might recover quicker and go home, that’s obviously a fantastic outcome.
“We also might be reducing the degree of respiratory distress so that it can be managed in the hospital setting, without needing to go to ICU, and that is a fantastic outcome as well.
“Theoretically, this treatment, given at this time, should be beneficial.”
Professor Mehta, however, said this was based on “animal studies”.
“It’s based on case reports, we need to do a trial to show that the evidence actually matches what we expect to happen.”