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Founder Boots Healthcare International
Headquarters Bath, United Kingdom
Services Medication
Parent Reckitt Benckiser

Nurofen is the brand name of a range of pain-relief medication made by Reckitt Benckiser. Introduced in 1983, the Nurofen brand was acquired following Reckitt Benckiser's acquisition of Boots Healthcare in 2005. The brand is primarily marketed and sold in the United Kingdom, other parts of Europe, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

There are 11 variants of Nurofen, all of which contain the analgesic ibuprofen as an active ingredient.[1] The ibuprofen is variously formulated as the free acid or the lysine salt, or may alternatively be in the form of a gel cap. In some cases these are marketed as being useful for treating specific types of pain such as back pain or period pain. The primary difference among the various formulations is speed and duration of ibuprofen absorption. According the United Kingdom Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, the form of ibuprofen in Nurofen Tension Headache (ibuprofen lysine) is aborbed nearly twice as quickly as the form in Neurofen Period Pain (ibuprofen free acid), with the former reaching peak blood concentrations in 38 minutes compared to 80 minutes for the latter.[2]

Some variants of Nurofen contain other active ingredients; for example, Nurofen Cold & Flu contains the non-sedating decongestant pseudoephedrine. Nurofen can help reduce back pain, menstrual pain, fevers, toothache or headache. Others are advertised as being targeted for specific pain types (for example "Period Pain Relief").


Nurofen Plus[edit]

Nurofen Plus is a pain relief medication based on codeine and ibuprofen.[3] It contains 12.8 mg of codeine phosphate (a mild opioid analgesic) and 200 mg of ibuprofen,[3] which is an NSAID. Nurofen Plus is the only product in the Nurofen range that contains codeine.

The original tablet was manufactured in two equal parts, joined together and coated. One part would contain the 12.8 mg of codeine phosphate and the other part contained 200 mg of ibuprofen. The tablets could be forcefully split for recreational use of codeine. Such drugs have a potential for misuse because they are available freely to the public.[4]

After concerns were raised about the addiction risk posed by the codeine content of these medicines (both Nurofen Plus and competing brands which contain codeine), an addiction warning was placed on the boxes in 2009 to warn users the medicine may cause addiction and must only be used for three days. There is still concern in places where these medicines are available over the counter, and certain groups suggest they should be made prescription only medicines (POMs).[citation needed] Over the counter codeine containing drugs can only be sold in the presence of a qualified pharmacist, and pharmacists can question repeat customers and refuse sales of these drugs if overuse or abuse is suspected.

Nurofen for Children[edit]

Nurofen for Children is a brand of children's medicine, distributed by Reckitt Benckiser Healthcare (UK) Ltd. Nurofen for Children is suitable for babies and children from 3 months (over 6 kg) to 12 years.

It is used for the fast and effective reduction of fever, including post immunisation pyrexia and the fast and effective relief of mild to moderate pain, such as a sore throat, teething pain, toothache, headache, minor aches and sprains.

Nurofen for Children is sugar free and colour free and comes in two flavours – strawberry and orange. It is available in bottle packs and in sachets. An easy dosing syringe is included in every bottle pack to aid accurate dosing.

2011 product recall[edit]

In August 25, 2011 it was reported that several packs of Nurofen Plus were found to contain Seroquel XL—a powerful anti-psychotic drug used to treat schizophrenia—in Boots stores across London.[5][6][7] The next day, a safety alert was issued by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). Pharmacists were told to check each package of Nurofen Plus to look for anti-psychotic drugs. There were three batches of Nurofen Plus which were affected by the alert. Reckitt Benckiser, manufacturer of Nurofen Plus, said that it did not know where the drugs had been switched. The product was re-released in cellophane-sealed packs.[8]

Christopher McGuire was later found guilty of one count of contaminating goods and two of administering a noxious substance and jailed for 18 months. McGuire cost the manufacturers £2.4m and saved himself £7 when he put anti-psychotic drugs in empty packets of the painkiller. The scheme involved asking for Nurofen Plus at a pharmacy counter and then attempting to pay for it with a card he knew would be declined. This created a sufficient distraction for McGuire to discreetly swap the contaminated packet for the fresh one and walk away.[9]


  1. ^ "Nurofen website". Retrieved 2011-11-17. 
  2. ^ "MHRA Approval Summary" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-08-05. 
  3. ^ a b The Medical Journal of Australia. Nurofen Plus misuse: an emerging cause of perforated gastric ulcer. Accessed 2 July 2009.
  4. ^ Chetty, R; Baoku, Y; Mildner, R; Banerjee, A; Vallance, D; Haddon, A; Labib, M (2003). "Severe hypokalaemia and weakness due to Nurofen misuse". Annals of Clinical Biochemistry 40 (Pt 4): 422–3. doi:10.1258/000456303766477101. PMID 12880547. 
  5. ^ "Nurofen "sabotaged" across London". 2011-08-26. Retrieved 2011-11-17. 
  6. ^ Jo Adetunji (2011-08-27). "Nurofen Plus recalled as drug manufacturer suspects sabotage". Guardian (London). Retrieved 2011-11-17. 
  7. ^ "Nurofen Plus recalled amid sabotage fears". Telegraph (London). 2011-08-26. Retrieved 2011-11-17. 
  8. ^ "Nurofen Plus goes back on sale in tamper-proof packs". BBC News. 2011-09-29. Retrieved 2011-11-17. 
  9. ^ "Nurofen Plus tampering: Christopher McGuire jailed". BBC News. 2012-05-28. Retrieved 2013-03-12.