Important update issued on common painkiller 71



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New recommendations on how we take one of the most common painkillers have been released, with experts saying pharmacists need to be trained to issue the right information to consumers.

Until now, it has always been advised that people taking the drug ibuprofen do so along with food, however the updated Australian Medicines Handbook now says it can be taken with water alone.

UK pain expert and Cochrane reviewer Professor Andrew Moore, a campaigner for the change in Australia, told Medical Observer he is pleased with the updated guidelines. He says there is substantial research into the effects of analgesics at the fasted and the fed state.

“The results show that taking analgesia with food lowers the blood plasma concentration, which is the exact opposite of what we’re trying to achieve, because we know that high early plasma concentrations are strongly associated with analgesic efficacy,” Professor Moore says.

“When you take an NSAID such as ibuprofen with food, it may not work as well as it could, meaning that people are more likely to take a second dose of tablets.

“This increases the safety risk, including the risk of possible adverse events.”

The Professor says the better advice is to take a lower dose of fast-acting ibuprofen, such as Nurofen on an empty stomach, meaning you take less but get the most effective pain relief.

“Advice to always take ibuprofen with or shortly after food is therefore inappropriate.”

From now on, the Australian Medicines Handbook will recommend patients take ibuprofen with a glass of water, and only to take it with a light meal if stomach upset has occurred in the past.

Were you aware of this change? Has your pharmacist updated you on how to take this medication?


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  1. The reason for taking it with food, was so you didn’t get a stomach ulcer.

    1 REPLY
    • I took Naprosyn with only a couple cracker biscuits. Had a small stomach ulcer that I healed after some time with Slippery Elm.

  2. We have breakfast AT ABOUT 6AM. Take ibuprofen at about 7.30. Is that ok??????

  3. I had to take ibuprofen when in hospital this last time. They didn’t offer me food. After the third lot I started to get like stomach cramps. Made me feel quite horrible.

    4 REPLY
  4. If people are taking them long term they can strip the lining of the stomach know two people this happened too in my family think I will have some food first!

  5. I was trained in pharmacy that ibuprofen is a product that can irritate the stomach lining, so better taken with food….how come the rules suddenly change ?

  6. take medication like painkillers on an empty stomach ,nausea ++ even if you are vomiting try to have a dry cracker and some fluids , common knowledge isn’t it !

  7. I can’t take it so not applicable to me. But I understood it was aspirin, ibobruphen etc are stomach irritants. So i’d be compromising take it with small amount of food. I take paracetamol and codeine and the affect is far better on empty stomach but can’t cause nausea. So a snack is handy to have then too.

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