Intern Emerg Med. 2022 Jul 30. doi: 10.1007/s11739-022-03054-1. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to compare the prescribing patterns of paracetamol in COVID-19 with those for similar respiratory conditions and investigated the association between paracetamol use and COVID-19-related hospitalization/death.
METHODS: Using a primary care data source, we conducted a cohort study to calculate the incidence rate of paracetamol use in COVID-19 and for similar respiratory conditions in 2020 and 2019 (i.e. pre-pandemic phase), respectively. In the study cohort, we nested a case-control analyses to investigate the association between paracetamol use and COVID-19-related hospitalizations/deaths.
RESULTS: Overall, 1554 (33.4 per 1000) and 2566 patients (78.3 per 1000) were newly prescribed with paracetamol to treat COVID-19 or other respiratory conditions, respectively. Those aged 35-44 showed the highest prevalence rate (44.7 or 99.0 per 1000), while the oldest category reported the lowest value (17.8 or 39.8 per 1000). There was no association for early (OR = 1.15; 95% CI: 0.92-1.43) or mid-term (OR = 1.29; 95% CI: 0.61-2.73) users of paracetamol vs. non-users. Instead, the late users of paracetamol showed a statistically significant increased risk of hospitalization/death (OR = 1.75; 95% CI: 1.4-2.2).
CONCLUSIONS: Our findings provide reassuring evidence on the use and safety profile of paracetamol to treat early symptoms of COVID-19 as in other respiratory infections.