AFP Paris


Updated Friday, February 9, 2024-13:05

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Advertising aimed at the general public to promote the highest dose of ibuprofen (400 mg), used to relieve pain and reduce fever, will be prohibited from April 2, the French National Medicines Safety Agency has announced. (ANSM).

The objective of this measure is to promote "better education to

encourage better use"

of these medications, which can be purchased without a prescription and are widely used in France, Dr. Philippe Vella, Medical Director of the ANSM, explained to AFP.

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This prohibition "in the press, television, web pages or any other means of communication intended for the general public" is part of the efforts being made to promote the proper use of ibuprofen, without calling into question the effectiveness and safety of these medications when used correctly, the agency said.

Ibuprofen is the most used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) in France.

This ban on advertising in the media was decided after "a global analysis of all advertising" for specialties based on ibuprofen 400 mg, which demonstrated that these commercial communications "were not likely to incite patients" to use these medications correctly, the agency explains.

The recommendations state that "ibuprofen 200 mg should be taken as first-line treatment", that is,

treatment should be started with the lowest dose

, as noted by the drug watchdog.

According to the ANSM, advertisements promoting the 400 mg dose remind the public of this precautionary principle, with a message encouraging the use of "the lowest possible dose."

Starting with paracetamol

However, in "most cases", they have caused an increase in sales of these specialties and, at the same time, the ANSM has noted an increase in "reports of

serious adverse reactions linked to the dose of ibuprofen"

, in particularly gastro-digestive bleeding and kidney damage.

In total, "16 laboratories are affected by ibuprofen 400 mg, which represents thirty brands of medicines" (such as Advil 400, Nurofen 400, Spedifen 400 and all generics whose name begins with ibuprofen with the name of the laboratory and the dose on the side), explained Dr. Vella. They have been informed of this "restrictive measure."

As of the end of 2019, these products were no longer available on pharmacy shelves, but on request, with a prescription, from the pharmacist.

"The important thing is to take them for the shortest possible time

, no more than three days in case of fever and five days in case of pain, starting with the 200 mg dose and respecting an interval of at least 6 hours between doses," says the Dr. Vella.

In case of fever or pain, start with paracetamol,"

says this expert. Paracetamol remains the

preferred option

: about 600 million boxes sold in 2022, compared to about 34 million boxes of ibuprofen (all concentrations), of which which 30 million of ibuprofen 400 and 4 million of ibuprofen 200.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories should not be used for chickenpox, bleeding disorders, stomach ulcers, kidney or liver diseases, and other conditions. They are also contraindicated after the sixth month of pregnancy.