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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 became available without a prescription in the UK in 1983 under the name "Nurofen" and in the US in 1984 under the name "Advil".
1961 – Patented in the United Kingdom
Ibuprofen was derived from propionic acid by the research arm of Boots Group during the 1960s. It was discovered by Andrew RM Dunlop, with colleagues Stewart Adams, John Nicholson, Vonleigh Simmons, Jeff Wilson and Colin Burrows.
1974 – Introduced in the United States
When ibuprofen was introduced in the United States in 1974, the recommended dose was 1200–3200 mg/day. This amount is three times the current recommended dose. The use became widespread and it was confirmed by the FDA as one of the safest of the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs); however, concerns about side effects to the liver and stomach had been mounting for some time.
Ibuprofen's safety record remained good with problems only being related to overdosing. The product was "Fast-Tracked" from prescription to over the counter (OTC) 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. By 1985, an estimated 100 million people had been treated with ibuprofen in more than 120 countries.
Need for mass production
As sales increased in 1984, Whitehall Labs, the US distributor of Advil, quickly realized Boots (the original manufacturer) could not keep up with demand. Boots was essentially making the product manually. Michael Dryden of the Whitehall R&D staff was assigned to form a team and create an automated manufacturing process as soon as possible. Dryden hired Guido Melenger, the head of a small pharma scale-up firm, to come up with an automated process. After three years of work, a team from Whitehall concluded Melenger would be unable to complete the task and feared his company was about to go out of business. Whitehall then formed an internal team consisting of Dryden, Webb Crew (to develop software) and George Van Parys (to develop the machinery). The first prototype machine was produced in late 1986, with the first production operation of units in late 1987.
After obtaining full FDA approval for the first installation in Hammonton, New Jersey in 1988, the task turned to improving the design of the machinery and increasing capacity. The same team worked on an improved design with major work being done by Van Parys on system design and efficiency. At the same time, Van Parys was designing and building a massive facility in Puerto Rico along with Steve Bennett, who was the construction manager of the site, to manufacture the product on a massive scale. This effort allowed for a second design and installation in Guayama, Puerto Rico of an initial 20 new systems. Each system now produced 540,000 tablets every 9 hours, or 1,080,000 tablets per day per system. This gave Whitehall the ability to produce a total of 32,400,000 tablets per month.
Hammonton, New Jersey Plant closes
The now 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, Puerto Rico in 2004. Up to this day, the facility is the only production manufacturing operation for Advil in the US, although other Pfizer (formerly Wyeth) facilities package the product. In 2010, all operations were moved to China to cut 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 (about 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 are composed of an outer casing of gelatin 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.
The active ingredients in Advil Liqui-Gels is ibuprofen. Ibuprofen may cause a severe allergic reaction in people allergic to other pain relievers. If an allergic reaction occurs, it is best to stop taking Advil Liqui-Gels and ask a doctor for help. The symptoms may include hives and facial swelling.