Onset Of Action For Ibuprofen Tablets Versus Liquid Capsules

In our latest question and answer, the pharmacist discusses several differences between ibuprofen liquid capsules and tablets.

Onset Of Action For Ibuprofen Tablets Versus Liquid Capsules
Oct 11, 2019

Brian asked

As a 10+ year certified pharmacy technician, I know that OTC Advil 200 mg tablets and OTC Ibuprofen 200 mg liquid capsules are basically chemically identical as far as the active ingredients are concerned. My question is about the mechanism of action. I am of the understanding through my physician and pharmacist that I can take 800 mg of ibuprofen up to three times daily. What I want to know is switching from tablet form to liquid cap form, is there any reason why I couldn't continue taking 800 mg three times a day as needed? I know the packaging says not to take more than six capsules per day, but that says unless directed by your physician. Is there any increased risk by switching to the liquid gel capsules, or is that just my Rx Tech paranoia kicking in?

At a glance

  • Most studies indicate there is no significant difference in the effectiveness between ibuprofen tablets and liquid capsules.
  • However, liquid capsules may work slightly faster than other solid formulations, like tablets.
  • The maximum daily dose of ibuprofen for use over the counter is 1,200 mg per day.
  • The maximum daily dose of ibuprofen for prescription use is 3,200 mg per day.


Ibuprofen Liquid Capsules


There are a few things to touch on here:

  • Is there a difference between ibuprofen tablets and liquid-capsules?
  • What is the maximum daily dosage of ibuprofen and does the product form (e.g. tablets, capsules) matter in this regard?

I'll answer these separately for you.

Tablets Vs. Liquid Capsules

There haven't been many studies evaluating the differences between ibuprofen dosage forms (e.g. tablets, liquid capsules, suspension, etc...).

The ones that have been completed usually report that there are no significant differences between them.

For example, one study, evaluating ibuprofen in its effectiveness for treating dental pain, reported the following:

  1. Evaluation of different doses of soluble ibuprofen and ibuprofen tablets in postoperative dental pain. PubMed
  2. Advil Packaging. Pfizer
  3. Onset of analgesia for liquigel ibuprofen 400 mg, acetaminophen 1000 mg, ketoprofen 25 mg, and placebo in the treatment of postoperative dental pain. PubMed
  4. An evaluation of different ibuprofen preparations in the control of postoperative pain after third molar surgery. PubMed

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