Ibuprofen skin patches offer a new method of pain relief

Is there a head-to-toe version?

A medicated skin patch by Medherant. Photograph by Martin Neeves Photography - www.martinneeves.com - Tel: +44 (0)7973 638591 - E-mail: martinneeves@googlemail.com

When it comes to inflammatory pain, ibuprofen is most people’s medicine of choice. I worship at its pain relieving altar, and I’ve never really seen a downside to using it, but that’s because I don’t have to take it for chronic pain. For those that rely on anti-inflammatory medications because of problems like mild arthritis or back pain that just won’t quit, taking oral capsules several times a day can lead to stomach upsets and bleeding ulcers. It’s really not the most ideal situation and it can probably feel like you’re just having to swap one kind of pain and irritation for another.

That’s why an ibuprofen patch developed by researchers at the University of Warwick is so exciting. The researchers say that wearing just one patch can deliver a concentrated dose of ibuprofen directly through the wearer’s skin for a period of up to 12 hours, thanks to a polymer technology which allows the drug to be incorporated into a sticky polymer matrix that can adhere to the skin.

Medical patches aren’t exactly a new concept, we already have them in the form of nicotine patches, and the existence of topical ibuprofen gels means that oral capsules aren’t really the only option on the market. But where this patch is preferable to these gels is partly in its convenience, but mostly in the fact that it provides a high and more controlled dosage of ibuprofen, being able to hold a drug load of up to 30%, which the researchers claim is 5 to 10 times the amount found in current gels.

If this patch is genuinely as effective as its creators claim it is, it could be the start of exciting expansions in methods of medicating; there are already plans to research the possibilities of applying the technology to other kinds of over-the-counter and prescription drugs.

When it comes to those who suffer from chronic pain and find the dosage of gels insufficient, or people who are sensitive to taking the oral version of ibuprofen this development could be a game changer. Even for those who find it difficult to swallow pills, it’s an ideal solution.

Nigel Davis, CEO of bio-adhesive company Medherant who co-developed the patches, said that with partnering they would hope to have the technology on the market within 2 years in the form of over-the-counter pain-relief patches.

Main Image via Medherent