Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in management of COVID-19; A systematic review on current evidence

Int J Clin Pract. 2020 Sep;74(9):e13557. doi: 10.1111/ijcp.13557. Epub 2020 Jun 14.


Background: Since there is still no definitive conclusion regarding which non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are most effective and safe in viral respiratory infections, we decided to evaluate the efficacy and safety of various NSAIDs in viral respiratory infections so that we can reach a conclusion on which NSAID is best choice for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Methods: A search was performed in Medline (via PubMed), Embase and CENTRAL databases until 23 March 2020. Clinical trials on application of NSAIDs in viral respiratory infections were included.

Results: Six clinical trials were included. No clinical trial has been performed on COVID-19, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome infections. Studies show that ibuprofen and naproxen not only have positive effects in controlling cold symptoms, but also do not cause serious side effects in rhinovirus infections. In addition, it was found that clarithromycin, naproxen and oseltamivir combination leads to decrease in mortality rate and duration of hospitalisation in patients with pneumonia caused by influenza.

Conclusion: Although based on existing evidence, NSAIDs have been effective in treating respiratory infections caused by influenza and rhinovirus, since there is no clinical trial on COVID-19 and case-reports and clinical experiences are indicative of elongation of treatment duration and exacerbation of the clinical course of patients with COVID-19, it is recommended to use substitutes such as acetaminophen for controlling fever and inflammation and be cautious about using NSAIDs in management of COVID-19 patients until there are enough evidence. Naproxen may be a good choice for future clinical trials.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use*
  • Betacoronavirus*
  • COVID-19
  • COVID-19 Drug Treatment
  • Coronavirus Infections / complications
  • Coronavirus Infections / drug therapy*
  • Coronavirus Infections / mortality
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / complications
  • Pneumonia, Viral / drug therapy*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / mortality
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Survival Rate


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal