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Should You Continue Taking Your Medications During the Spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

I’ve received a lot of questions from patients about whether or not to continue medications, whether those be prescribed prescription medications or over-the-counter medications. The short answer to that question is you should continue to take your prescribed medications.

The Risk of Stopping Medication Outweighs the Risk of Coronavirus

There's been a lot of information and misinformation about specific medications, particularly those for high blood pressure. There has been a set of medications that perhaps have been implicated in making the virus worse, however there's no credible evidence to suggest that medications for high blood pressure make the virus worse, help you to get it more easily, or increase your risk for getting sick or dying from that disease. That said, hypertension is a pretty dangerous thing to have in terms of being untreated, so my absolute recommendation would be to continue to take your high blood pressure medications. The risk from not taking them, which would be potentially heart attack, stroke, blood clots, and other things that put people in the hospital and make them sick, are much greater than the risk from stopping them due to the virus. 

If you Contract Coronavirus, Avoid Ibuprofen

The other thing that’s been talked about is over-the-counter medications, specifically ibuprofen and drugs like that. Those are in a group of medications called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, or NSAIDs. So, recent information suggests that it's probably best to avoid ibuprofen if you do in fact have the virus or have a positive test for COVID-19 or the Coronavirus. That information is based on studies that have come out from several different countries. However being this is a fluid situation, be sure to check with your pharmacist or physician if you have specific questions. because things are changing daily. But, at this point in time it's best to avoid ibuprofen if you do have the virus, and instead probably take Tylenol if you need something for pain relief. 

What if I am Immunocompromised?

We’ve received a lot of questions about patients that are undergoing cancer treatment, or HIV patients whose immune systems are compromised, and they may be taking medications that affect their immune system or might compromise their ability to fight a virus. The recommendation is certainly to continue those medications unless you receive other instructions from your provider or pharmacist. Again, it's a risk-benefit ratio, and at this time the benefit from taking those medications certainly outweighs the risk.

During this time CHI Health Pharmacies are making it easier to have your prescriptions mailed to you as well.

If you have concerns around Coronavirus (COVID-19), take our questionnaire.

Bob Grenier, Pharm.D.
Bob Grenier, Pharm.D.

Bob Grenier, PharmD, is a Retail Pharmacy Manager at CHI Health.

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