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Taking ibuprofen, especially over the longer-term and in higher doses, carries all kinds of health risks. A new patch has now been developed that delivers steady doses of the popular NSAID directly through the skin, minus the side effects.

Did you know that if you take only one non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug — a class of drugs of which ibuprofen is a prominent member — every four days, you'll accumulate nine times the risk of suffering vital organ damage over your lifetime? Taking ibuprofen for long periods, especially in high doses, increases your risk of stroke and heart attack, and women who regularly rely on the drug may see reduced fertility. Then, in addition to the risk of immediate side effects upon taking ibuprofen, side effects such as nausea, diarrhea and abdominal pain, less common side effects of ibuprofen include fluid retention, gastritis, stomach ulcers, and kidney failure. 

The FDA takes the risk of long-term use of NSAIDs so seriously that it recently took the warnings offered on package inserts up a notch. 

Many people rely on ibuprofen to reduce fevers, inflammation, and pain. Yet these side effects are incredibly worrying, especially for those who turn to the popular over-the-counter medication on a near daily basis. People who need symptom reduction frequently inevitably find themselves asking the question — do the advantages outweigh the risks?

Those concerns may soon be a thing of the past: a new patch has been developed that allows users to enjoy the symptom-relieving benefits of ibuprofen without the worrying side effects. 


What Is The New Ibuprofen Patch?

Though ibuprofen gels already exist, the doses of these gels are difficult to control, and many patients find their application tricky. Shouldn't there be some more convenient option, one which eliminates the side effects of ibuprofen while offering a steady dose to patients? 

Researchers at Britain's University of Warwick, led by Professor David Haddleton, certainly thought so. They worked with a Coventry-based spinout company, Medherant, to develop an ibuprofen patch that delivers adequate pain relief and anti-inflammatory action to through the skin, exactly where symptom reduction is needed and in consistent doses

The patch comes in the form of a polymer matrix containing ibuprofen of up to 30 percent of the weight of the patch that can be applied to the skin without easily coming off. Patients would then receive steady doses of ibuprofen for up to 12 hours. This is a true breakthrough, as Professor Haddleton explains, because it will now be possible to "produce patches that contain effective doses of active ingredients such as ibuprofen for which no patches currently exist".

In addition, the newly developed patch may be able to be put to use in delivering other medications in the future as well, Haddleton pointed out: 

"There are only a limited number of existing polymers that have the right characteristics to be used for this type of transdermal patches—that will stick to the skin and not leave residues when being easily removed. Furthermore, there are also only a limited number of drugs that will dissolve into these existing polymers. Medherant’s technology now opens up the field of transdermal drug delivery to previously non-compatible drugs"

Medherant CEO Nigel Davis said that their new technology will put a wider variety of skin patches on the market, and was hopeful that the new ibuprofen patch will be sold commercially in around two years.