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Should I stop taking any medications during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Dr. Nancy Shannon

Medically reviewed by Dr. Nancy Shannon, MD, PhD on May 5, 2020

The short answer: Unless your doctor advises you to do so, you should NOT stop taking any medication because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We completely understand that everybody wants to protect themselves from COVID-19, and because experts still don’t know everything about this new virus and infection, internet rumors and half-baked news articles can create confusion. These are a few medications our patients have asked about:

Birth Control Pills, Patches & Rings
If you’ve heard about reports of increased blood clots in hospitalized patients with COVID-19 you may be wondering whether it is safe to continue combined hormone birth control during the pandemic. Unless you have been diagnosed with a COVID-19 infection and your doctor has advised you to stop using hormonal birth control, you should NOT stop your pills/patches/rings.

When and if you choose to become pregnant is a very personal decision, which the COVID-19 situation may make more complicated. With the limited information we have, it does not appear that pregnancy or childbirth increases your chance of contracting COVID-19. Similarly, pregnant women do not seem to be at higher risk of a more serious course of the illness. It is uncertain whether mothers can pass the virus to their infants in utero, but this is thought to be unlikely.

ACE-inhibitors & ARBs
People have speculated that medications like angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE)-inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) may influence your risk of acquiring a COVID-19 infection and affect the severity of the infection. This is because a form of the enzyme – called ACE2 – is important for the virus to attach to the cell so it can enter and infect the cell. However, there is no evidence that the use of ACE-inhibitor or ARBs predisposes someone to a COVID-19 infection. Doctors prescribe these medications for serious conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease, and kidney disease. If you are on these medications, it is important to continue them to be in the best health possible.

Ibuprofen
Ibuprofen is another drug that, in laboratory experiments, increased ACE2. Therefore, there was a theoretical concern that the use of ibuprofen could worsen the outcome of patients with COVID-19 and observational data that showed patients who took ibuprofen during a COVID-19 infection developed a severe illness. But this has not been consistently seen, and the World Health Organization no longer advises against using ibuprofen.

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