NSAID use and clinical outcomes in COVID-19 patients: a 38-center retrospective cohort study

Justin T. Reese, Ben Coleman, Lauren Chan, Hannah Blau, Tiffany J. Callahan, Luca Cappelletti, Tommaso Fontana, Katie R. Bradwell, Nomi L. Harris, Elena Casiraghi, Giorgio Valentini, Guy Karlebach, Rachel Deer, Julie A. McMurry, Melissa A. Haendel, Christopher G. Chute, Emily Pfaff, Richard Moffitt, Heidi Spratt, Jasvinder A. SinghChristopher J. Mungall, Andrew E. Williams, Peter N. Robinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Background: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are commonly used to reduce pain, fever, and inflammation but have been associated with complications in community-acquired pneumonia. Observations shortly after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 suggested that ibuprofen was associated with an increased risk of adverse events in COVID-19 patients, but subsequent observational studies failed to demonstrate increased risk and in one case showed reduced risk associated with NSAID use. Methods: A 38-center retrospective cohort study was performed that leveraged the harmonized, high-granularity electronic health record data of the National COVID Cohort Collaborative. A propensity-matched cohort of 19,746 COVID-19 inpatients was constructed by matching cases (treated with NSAIDs at the time of admission) and 19,746 controls (not treated) from 857,061 patients with COVID-19 available for analysis. The primary outcome of interest was COVID-19 severity in hospitalized patients, which was classified as: moderate, severe, or mortality/hospice. Secondary outcomes were acute kidney injury (AKI), extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), invasive ventilation, and all-cause mortality at any time following COVID-19 diagnosis. Results: Logistic regression showed that NSAID use was not associated with increased COVID-19 severity (OR: 0.57 95% CI: 0.53–0.61). Analysis of secondary outcomes using logistic regression showed that NSAID use was not associated with increased risk of all-cause mortality (OR 0.51 95% CI: 0.47–0.56), invasive ventilation (OR: 0.59 95% CI: 0.55–0.64), AKI (OR: 0.67 95% CI: 0.63–0.72), or ECMO (OR: 0.51 95% CI: 0.36–0.7). In contrast, the odds ratios indicate reduced risk of these outcomes, but our quantitative bias analysis showed E-values of between 1.9 and 3.3 for these associations, indicating that comparatively weak or moderate confounder associations could explain away the observed associations. Conclusions: Study interpretation is limited by the observational design. Recording of NSAID use may have been incomplete. Our study demonstrates that NSAID use is not associated with increased COVID-19 severity, all-cause mortality, invasive ventilation, AKI, or ECMO in COVID-19 inpatients. A conservative interpretation in light of the quantitative bias analysis is that there is no evidence that NSAID use is associated with risk of increased severity or the other measured outcomes. Our results confirm and extend analogous findings in previous observational studies using a large cohort of patients drawn from 38 centers in a nationally representative multicenter database.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number84
JournalVirology journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • COVID-19
  • Cyclooxygenase inhibitors
  • NSAIDs
  • Observational study

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Virology
  • Infectious Diseases


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