What About Ibuprofen: What We Know From The French Alert About The World's Most Consumed Anti-Inflammatory Drugs

Last week, the French Medicines Agency (ANSM) has warned doctors and patients of the risks of using ibuprofen and ketoprofen in the treatment of some infections. Furthermore, he has asked the European authorities to investigate these medicines. What do we know and what do we not know about the French alert on ibuprofen?

What about Ibuprofen?

On the trail of the problem Following reports of serious infectious complications related to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (the family of drugs of which ibuprofen and ketoprofen are part), the ANSM commissioned a national pharmacovigilance survey in June 2018 to to study in depth if these complications had been favored by NSAIDs or if, instead, they reflected normal evolution of the infection.

A review of 18 years. Since 2000, the Agency found 337 cases of infectious complications related to ibuprofen and 49 more cases related to ketoprofen. These were serious cases in children and young adults without risk factors or any other underlying disease. They found dermatological, sepsis, pulmonary, and neurological diseases that led to hospitalizations, serious sequelae, or even death.

It is important to note that these infectious complications (streptococcus or pneumococcus, especially) appeared without a clear pattern after very short treatments (2 to 3 days) even when anti-inflammatories were combined with antibiotic treatment. In other words, the fundamental conclusions were that we must continue investigating. The rest of European agencies have promised to do so.

Prioritize paracetamol. That is the main conclusion of the French ANSM, the recommendation to prioritize paracetamol in the treatment of pain derived from streptococcal infections. In the event that an anti-inflammatory is needed due to the characteristics of the problem, it is recommended to use "the minimum effective dose and the shortest duration" possible. This is something we should take note of in Spain where 600 mg pills are sold as goodies when 400 is usually more than enough.

Alert, not alarm. Because perhaps the most important thing is to point out that there is no health alarm. Ibuprofen is one of the most consumed drugs in the world and the fact that you find alone 337 cases in 18 years of mass consumption by the French population speak well of the health and pharmacological controls that we have. Peace of mind, patience, common sense and not taking medications on our own: there is the key to protect ourselves from possible problems with ibuprofen.

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