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All You Need to Know About Ibuprofen

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Ibuprofen, it may just sound like another drug that you have no idea how it works, or what it’s even used for – in fact, before I wrote this paper I didn’t even know what it was! What if I told you Advil, the drug that kills headaches, body aches, and mild pain was actually Ibuprofen. Everyone has taken Advil at least once in his or her lifetime to cure a headache or to get rid of pain. Ibuprofen is a widely used drug for all ages but the consumer knows absolutely nothing about it, for example: how it works, how it’s made, the side effects and even if it’s worth taking.

The goal of this paper is to educate consumers about the world-renowned painkiller, Ibuprofen; who created the drug, how Ibuprofen works, its uses, how it’s made, what it’s made of, the main manufacturers of the drug and the drawbacks of using this product. Ibuprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (a drug which reduces swelling and relieves pain) (“Ibuprofen | Encyclopedia. com,” n. d. ). In the scientific community, Ibuprofen is known as methyl propyl phenyl propanoic acid. Its active ingredient (the ingredient which is “biologically” active) is the chemical ibuprofen (“Ibuprofen,” 2018). Chemicals are made up of a fixed proportion of atoms arranged in a certain way. The chemical formula is like the ingredients list on a pack of cookies, it tells you all the ingredients and how much of each ingredient there is (“Chemical Formula,” n. d. ). Ibuprofen’sIbuprofen’s chemical formula is C13H18O2, this tells us Ibuprofen is made up of thirteen carbon atoms, eighteen hydrogen atoms, and two oxygen atoms (“Chemical Formula,” n. d. ). We use chemical formulas to make it easier to describe certain elements and molecules; they give us a basic understanding of a chemical before we know what it is (“Chemical Formula,” n. d. ). In conclusion, chemical formulas tell us about the ratios of elements in a chemical making them easier to understand.

When Ibuprofen was created it was revolutionary for being one of the first over the counter (OTC) drugs in over a generation, and even more effective than aspirin for relieving pain. OTC drugs are drugs that you can purchase without a prescription (“Ibuprofen | Encyclopedia. com,” n. d. ). Thanks to Ibuprofen it paved the way for future OTC drugs, without OTC drugs over 60 million Americans wouldn’t seek treatment for their illness (“Statistics on OTC Use,” n. d. ). Ibuprofen was the first OTC pain relief medication to enter pharmacies in over a generation, the main non-subscription painkiller was aspirin which was introduced in 1899 but, it is much less effective compared to ibuprofen (“Ibuprofen | Encyclopedia. com,” n. d. ). Ibuprofen was developed by Boots Laboratories (a British drug manufacturer and retailer). They identified the soothing pain relief agent that was in aspirin called, carboxylic acid (“Ibuprofen | Encyclopedia. com,” n. d. ). Boots Laboratories further investigated carboxylic acids and found one that was twice as strong as the one in aspirin.

They synthesized and tested more than 600 compounds created from these acids, the most active of these was, propanoic acid, which was chosen for clinical trial, however, it was unsuccessful (“Ibuprofen | Encyclopedia. com,” n. d. ). Finally, they turned to other compounds they had synthesized from phenyl alkanoic acids, which seemed to offer broader anti-inflammatory features (“Ibuprofen | Encyclopedia. com,” n. d. ). At last, they came across Ibuprofen (methyl propyl phenyl propanoic acid) which they started selling in 1964 to the United Kingdom, as the prescription drug, Brufen, then later to the USA in 1974, and was approved for OTC selling in smaller doses (“Ibuprofen | Encyclopedia. com,” n. d. ). Ibuprofen was an incredibly influential drug when it was first discovered and still is to this day. Ibuprofen is a widely mass produced drug made and manufactured by thousands of companies, one of the largest of these, Pfizer, which is the parent company of Advil (“Pfizer,” 2018). Pfizer is a pharmaceutical company based in NYC and was founded over 169 years ago (“Pfizer,” 2018).

Pfizer also manufactures more drugs and medications than just Ibuprofen. When Pfizer manufactures Advil they make sure their formula is kept top secret but, there are some basic ideas on how it’s manufactured.

First, the raw materials are shipped to the factory where they are bulk processed (Advil Tablet Manufacturing Process, 2012). After, they are granulated then coated in a layer of sugar (this is designed to increase the satisfaction of the product so the consumer uses it again); then the tablets are polished and stapled with the Advil logo (Advil Tablet Manufacturing Process, 2012). Advil and other Ibuprofen products are recommended for mild pains such as headaches, muscle aches, back aches, menstrual pain, minor arthritis, and other joint pain, aches and pains from the common cold, toothache, migraines, joint pain, and surprisingly large doses can help slow lung disease (“Cystic Fibrosis: Ibuprofen Associated With Slower Lung Function Decline In Children, Study Suggests,” 2018).

Although Ibuprofen has many positives people are constantly overdosing from using them too often. If you constantly take Ibuprofen your body’s pain threshold will be a lot lower than the average person. Ibuprofen may just seem like magic to most people but, there’s quite a lot of science going on when you take it. When cells are damaged they release a chemical called arachidonic acid (How Ibuprofen Works, 2012). Two enzymes are known as COX-1 and COX-2 break down arachidonic acid and form Prostaglandin H2 (How Ibuprofen Works, 2012). This is then converted into TXA2, PGD2, PGE2 and PGF2 these chemicals raise body temperature, cause inflammation and lower your body’s pain threshold (How Ibuprofen Works, 2012). When nociceptors are receiving pain above this threshold they send signals to the brain which then stimulates pain (How Ibuprofen Works, 2012).

The second you take an ibuprofen medication your stomach breaks it down and is then absorbed into your bloodstream where it then attaches to the two enzymes COX-1 and COX-2 blocking the arachidonic acid from entering the bloodstream preventing the pain signal from progressing further. It has been proven that if you take it too often that it has a massive effect on your hearing, bones and your kidney (How Ibuprofen Works, 2012). Not to mention that NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) if taken too often they increase the chance of a heart attack and heart-related problems by 33% (“Ibuprofen Risks You Need to Know,” 2017). Another recent study involving 10 million people found that those currently taking an NSAID had a 19% higher risk of being hospitalized for heart failure and NSAID users also have a higher chance of internal bleeding (“Ibuprofen Risks You Need to Know,” 2017).

In addition to that Ibuprofen and OTC drugs kill over 100,000 in the USA alone (“Ibuprofen Kills Thousands Each Year. So Here’s The Alternative,” 2016). Although these warnings may seem new to you the Food and Drug Administration has been putting warnings out but, companies like Advil have done everything they can to silence it (“Ibuprofen Risks You Need to Know,” 2017). Ibuprofen is an absolutely amazing drug, it’s truly a revolutionary drug of its time, it will continue to act as a stepping stone for future NSAID and OTC drugs. Although, just like anything overuse is never good. A 33% increased chance of a heart attack and a 19% increased chance of heart failure is not worth stopping a mild headache for (“Ibuprofen Risks You Need to Know,” 2017). Yet, it’s still an incredible product if used appropriately and saves us a lot of pain but, don’t stop using it after reading this paper, just be more conscious of when you use it and how. Next time you take an Advil think twice before popping it in your mouth and ask yourself “Am I am so much pain that I really need this? ” In doing so you remind yourself of the long term risks and hopefully only use it as it was designed to be used.

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All You Need to Know about Ibuprofen. (2020, May 19). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 11, 2021, from
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