June 2, 2015
Letter to the Editor
Sumathi Reddy’s article, “Advil vs. Tylenol. Which to Use, and When,” published in the Wall Street Journal on May 11, 2015, underscores the need to raise public awareness about these over the counter pain relievers. While these products share the same shelf space and are considered interchangeable by many consumers, they are not; Advil is a brand of ibuprofen, a non steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), and Tylenol is a brand of acetaminophen.
Additionally, as Reddy points out, NSAIDs are not all the same. Advil, Motrin and Aleve, for example, are all NSAIDs, but the former two are ibuprofen and the latter is naproxen. Aspirin is also an NSAID.
While ibuprofen and naproxen are unique drugs, a patient needs to know that they are both NSAIDs. Serious side effects affecting the kidneys, heart or the gastrointestinal tract – particularly the stomach, can occur when NSAIDs are taken at too high a dose, for too long, or in combination with another NSAID.
NSAIDs are used daily by millions of Americans, and while these drugs are widely available they are not without the risk of side effects, particularly when used inappropriately. Reddy cites numerous studies and or/experts that recommend against prolonged use of NSAIDs. So, in addition to the focal question of the article — which to use, and when (between Advil and Tylenol) — it’s important to ask, “How much to use, and for how long?”
The NSAID Alliance and its partner organizations urge patients to read the labels, know what they are taking and use NSAIDs at the lowest dose and shortest duration for therapeutic effect. If they have questions or concerns, patients should contact their pharmacist or healthcare provider.
Jennifer Wagner Byron Cryer
Executive Director Chair
A Public Health Coalition