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Do Advil film-coated tablets work faster than regular ibuprofen tablets?

They can provide faster relief but might not be worth the cost

Published: April 30, 2014 03:15 PM

Film-coated tablets can relieve pain faster, though they’re probably not worth the extra money. Advil’s newest drug contains the active ingredient ibuprofen sodium in an “ultra thin shell” that Pfizer, the manufacturer, claims will knock out your pain faster than other nonprescription pain relievers. Those “fast acting” pills can help relieve “headaches, muscle aches, toothaches, menstrual cramps, back pain, and aches and pains associated with the common cold,” Advil’s website says.

Two published studies of people who had wisdom teeth removed found that film-coated tablets started to relieve pain about 4 to 6 minutes faster than regular ibuprofen. But it still took 42 to 80 minutes before some people noticed a big improvement. When it comes to tension headaches, Pfizer sponsored research initially showed no difference between film-coated and regular Advil in the time it took to relieve people’s pain. But when researchers did another analysis of the results, they found that the film-coated tablets did work faster.

And for that slightly faster relief, you’ll have to pay more. We found an 80-pill bottle of film-coated Advil for $11 at CVS online; 150 regular generic ibuprofen tablets cost less than $9, making the generic less than half the price per pill.

—Steve Mitchell

Editor's Note:

This article and related materials are made possible by a grant from the state Attorney General Consumer and Prescriber Education Grant Program, which is funded by the multistate settlement of consumer-fraud claims regarding the marketing of the prescription drug Neurontin (gabapentin).

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