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Don’t want to take an ibuprofen pill? Just stick a patch on instead

Your pain relief options have just grown broader, with the advent of a newly developed skin patch. Ibuprofen, the universal pain reliever, is now available as an adhesive patch that delivers drugs in a hyper-efficient way — directly through your skin. If swallowing a pill just isn’t your thing, or if you don’t want to take your medicine quite so frequently, this patch is for you. It delivers the drug for up to 12 hours of relief, making it the easiest feel-better solution you’ve yet to try.

Heralded as the “world’s first ibuprofen patch,” the new development from the University of Warwick in England and its spinoff company Medherant is designed to “consistently deliver a prolonged high dose of the painkiller ibuprofen directly through the skin.” While patches are nothing new in the medical world (nicotine and motion sickness patches have been around for years), this is the first time that painkillers have used this particular vehicle for drug delivery. Previous attempts at making gels have run into dosage issues, but the ibuprofen patch, scientists say, “opens the way for the development of a range of novel long-acting over-the-counter pain relief products.”

Citing potential implications in the treatment of “common painful conditions like chronic back pain, neuralgia, and arthritis,” researchers believe that the patch eliminates “the need to take potentially damaging doses of the drug orally.” And because the concentration of the ibuprofen in the patch can be “5-10 times that found in some currently used medical patches and gels,” patients will certainly be able to garner substantial, and fast, relief from its usage.

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Unlike the Icy Hot patch, which is often used as a makeshift painkiller, the ibuprofen patch actually contains a pain relief agent, and doesn’t “simply soothe the body by a warming effect,” said University of Warwick research chemist Professor David Haddleton. “Our technology now means that we can for the first time produce patches that contain effective doses of active ingredients such as ibuprofen for which no patches currently exist,” he added.

“Our transdermal patch technology expands the range of drugs that can be delivered via skin patches and can significantly increase drug loading capabilities, whilst retaining adhesion and being thin and flexible,” noted Nigel Davis, CEO of Medherant. “Thus our patches provide a better experience for patients, enhance safety and deliver increased efficacy, which will lead to economic benefits to the healthcare system.”

The team isn’t satisfied with stopping at ibuprofen, however. While their initial offerings will be over-the-counter pain relief patches, Davis says, they’re also looking into working “with drugs in many other therapeutic areas.” But you’ll have to wait — the ibuprofen patch isn’t slated to make an appearance for another two years. But when it does, pain management may never be the same again.