A new study aims to see if the common drug may help reduce long-term respiratory issues caused by COVID-19. 

A team of researchers at London's Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital, King's College, and the SEEK Group—a pharmaceutical organization—are conducting a study to "evaluate the reduction in severity and progression of lung injury with three doses of lipid ibuprofen in patients with SARS-CoV-2 infections."

The ibuprofen used in the study is not the same standard pill we can buy at the drugstore, instead, it's a specialized lipid formula called Flarin, which is already used by many arthritis patients in the UK. The formulation is less harsh on the stomach, a common problem with ibuprofen. Patients will be given three doses to see if it will lessen the seriousness and spread of lung injury due to the virus.

The trial, called Liberate, hopes to test 230 patients and is recruiting now. The study is estimated to be complete in late May 2021.

“As a new illness, there are limited treatment options for patients with Covid-19,” said Richard Beale, a professor of intensive care medicine at the NHS trust. “The clinical trial will assess whether this unique formulation of an established drug benefits patients.”

The researchers behind the study hope that this research will help lessen the need for ventilators, as well as lessen the long-lasting impacts on the respiratory system that some coronavirus patients experience. The study was proposed when SEEK shared positive pre-clinical data with Kings College, after seeing promising results in lab-based experiments with the special formula.  

Ibuprofen has been the subject of some argument as the world faces coronavirus after France's Health Minister Oliver Veran discouraged the use of the drug, saying it could worsen symptoms, which sparked a worldwide focus on the subject. If this new study is successful, it could be a big step in treating the long-term after-effects of the virus, which doctors and researchers are still working to fully understand.

"This highly innovative therapeutic approach seeks to rapidly advance a potentially important new treatment. If successful, the global public health value of this trial result would be immense given the low cost and availability of this medicine. The World Health Organization and European Medicines Agency have highlighted that studies like this are vital in tackling this pandemic," Professor Matthew Hotopf, Director of the NIHR Maudsley BRC.

As the world learns more about coronavirus, how it affects patients' short- and long-term, and what treatments work, we hope to see more studies like this on drugs that are already out there.

What do you think about this new information and the possibility of ibuprofen being able to treat COVID-19 patients' long-term respiratory issues? Let us know in the comments.