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Ibuprofen was initially introduced as a prescription NSAID used for such conditions as rheumatoid arthritis, in 1969 in the UK and 1974 in the US. Ibuprofen's safety record remained good with problems only being related to overdosing. The product was "Fast-Tracked" from prescription to OTC (over-the-counter) status by the FDA. It became available in the UK in 1983 under the brand name "Nurofen" and in the United States in 1984 under the brand name "Advil". Anyone could buy it without a prescription for the treatment of headaches, dental pain, migraine and menstrual pain.
The first automated production facility opened in Hammonton, New Jersey in 1988. The design of the equipment to make the tablet's 67 layer structure came from George Van Parys and Webb Crew, who both worked for American Home Products at the time. It was soon recognised that output capacity was insufficient, and production was inefficient. A new facility was built in Guayama, Puerto Rico, which comprised an initial 20 new systems. Van Parys created second generation systems and built the plant with Steve Bennett leading the construction effort. Each system now produced 540,000 tablets every 9 hours, or 1,440,000 tablets per day per system. This gave Whitehall the ability to produce a total of 876,600,000 tablets per month.
Whitehall-Robbins closed the Hammonton manufacturing facility in 1996, moving its 10 production units to Rouses Point, New York. This move was short lived, and the units ended up in Guayama in 2004.
In 2009 30 units were moved to China to cut the labor cost.
Throughout its history, Advil advertising often compared it to both aspirin and Tylenol, both of which were portrayed as "old fashioned" or "out of date" drugs. For example, one print advertisement showed aspirin and Tylenol in the background with the years they came out (1898 and 1955 respectively) and Advil shown as "Today's" drug (except upon its introduction in 1984, when "1984" was shown). Another example is a television commercial (mid to late 1990s) showing "flashbacks" of previous generations using aspirin or Tylenol and showing Advil as being used by the current generation.
Marketing slogans have included "Advanced Medicine for Pain", "For today's tough pain, one is often enough" and "The Everyday Pain Reliever".
Advil PM became available in 2006, and is a sleep aid medication. Advil PM caplets contain a combination of 200 mg of ibuprofen, and 38 mg of the sleep aid diphenhydramine citrate. Diphenhydramine citrate is very similar to the ingredient diphenhydramine hydrochloride found in Tylenol PM and Benadryl. Advil PM Liqui-Gels contain a combination of 200 mg of ibuprofen and 25 mg of diphenhydramine HCl.
Advil Liqui-Gels comprise an outer gelatin casing filled with solubilized ibuprofen. Ibuprofen is normally in a crystallized form that is grown 2 times and wet granulated to form the base material. The crystalline structure is one reason certain people can have unique reactions to the product. The concept was first worked out between George Van Parys (designer of the Advil manufacturing equipment), Robert DiCianni, and Banner Pharmacaps of California in 1994. The delay in creating the product from 1994 was in developing a method to solubilize ibuprofen without crystallization occurring inside the gelatin casing.