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Difference Between Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen

Michelle A. Fritsch, Pharm.D., CGP, BCACP

August 11, 2015

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Question

It can often take two or three days for a patient to equilibrate and get used to a dose change.  

Answer

Ibuprofen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug and its mechanism of action is a peripherally acting medication that not only reduces pain and fever, but it can also reduce inflammation.  Acetaminophen is a centrally acting medication and it just helps with pain and fever.  They have different mechanisms and they can be used somewhat together.  For instance, if you have a patient with either pain or fever that is not controlled by one, for a short time, we would encourage them to alternate them every three hours.  Individually, they are typically dosed every six hours.  If I took ibuprofen at a certain time and I was not controlled in another three hours, I could take acetaminophen, and then another three hours later, resume the ibuprofen and so on.  I would not take them at the same time, but they can help bridge between medications during acute events like a high fever or pain.  


michelle a fritsch

Michelle A. Fritsch, Pharm.D., CGP, BCACP

Michelle Fritsch, Pharm.D., CGP, BCACP is a clinical pharmacist with a passion for geriatric health and education.  She is currently founder of Meds MASH, LLC, a company dedicated to reducing risks posed by medications and falls in mature adults.  She was from 2008-2014 founding Professor and Chair, Department of Clinical and Administrative Sciences at the Notre Dame of Maryland University School of Pharmacy in Baltimore, Maryland.  Dr. Fritsch received her Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy and Doctor of Pharmacy degrees from Purdue University.  She then completed a primary care residency at the William S. Middleton Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Madison, Wisconsin.  Prior to her arrival at the Notre Dame of Maryland University, Dr. Fritsch founded and directed the Alamance Medication Assistance Program (AlaMAP) of Alamance Regional Medical Center (ARMC) in Burlington, North Carolina from 1997 to 2008.  The AlaMAP clinic provides medication therapy management and medication access to a geriatric population in Alamance County, North Carolina.

 

 


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