Prescription Ibuprofen?

Why? I mean, I understand that it’s usually 800mg but what’s the point? Why don’t doctors just give you instructions for dosage of OTC Ibuprofen?

You know, complicated instructions. Like, take four OTC pills every 8 hours.

I wasn’t personally prescribed this, so I didn’t have a chance to ask the doctor, but I sure would if any doctor tried to write me such a scrip.

Can anyone shed some light on this one?

Guessing, but… insurance reasons, perhaps?

Depending on your copay, the Rx is probably cheaper than buying the OTC.

Just ak the folks that have been taking Claritin or Prilosec about switching from perhaps a $20 copay to retail pricing.

I got prescribed these by my dentist.

I assumed it’s because the prescription has a set time limit inherent in it and it’s probably bad to do those levels for too long. I guess you’d also have the benefit of your pharmacist knowing if you were taking something else (like another anti-inflammatory).

That being said, I just took extra of the OTC for the duration.

Yeah, that’s my guess too. But I can’t wrap my brain around the reasons.

Umm, no. I can get 500 generic 200mg tabs for ~$6 on sale. That works out to 125 800mg doses at less than a nickel each. Script is for 20 800mg tabs.

Yeah, this is probably the official reason. But it doesn’t hold water, in my opinion. Hell, they could just print a label and tell you to go buy a bottle OTC and stick on the label if they think you’re that dumb. Maybe one of the resident doctors will respond.

Some people’s insurance may be different? For example some plans you pay 20% of drug cost rather than a fixed $10 copay.

Also, prescription medicine can be reimbursed with pre-tax accounts and OTC can’t.

So there are some financial reasons why this might make sense.

Sometimes I think it’s because the patients pressure the doctor to prescribe something, and this gives the doctor a safe alternative.

As an example, I’ve gone to the doctor for a cough and been prescribed Humibid DM, which are very impressive big pills. They are also exactly the same thing as OTC Robitussin DM, though a wee bit stronger. But people like to get prescription when they go the doctor, it feels like something more scientific.

Ibuprofen started out as a prescription medication, and wasn’t available over the counter until the early 1980’s, IIRC. And then only in lower dose forms, the 200 mg tablet. Initially, the bottles warned to NOT take more than 200-400 mg 4 times a day unless directed by a physician.

Meanwhile, for patients who needed inflammation reduction, a 600 mg dose 4 x a day was generally deemed necessary. This dosage mandated the prescription.

The reasoning still holds, I suppose. A little Ibu here and there for pain relief is ok, but for a lot chronically, the drug companies didn’t want the liabilities involved in making that recommendation to the public without a doc in the process. Or so I guess.


My family happens to have a kick-ass prescription program ($5 for generic and $10 for “brand” name) as well as a kick-ass doctor.

My sister has a broken ankle, for which she was prescribed ibuprofen to help with pain and swelling. My mom mentioned our prescription plan to the doctor. The doc then proceeded to write my sis a scrip for 100 600mg tablets. The scrip of course came with a warning not to take such a high dose for too long, more than one pill at a time, etc. He wrote it for so many pills so that my sis could keep the extras for later use.

So we got 60,000mg of ibruprofen for $5 when a bottle of 10,000mg (500 pills at 200mg each) costs as much, if not more than that.

So I’d lean more on the side of lower costs, while seconding the idea of patient pressure to prescribe something.


Some doctors don’t seem to care. My dentist prescribed me Ibuprofen too. I asked can’t I just take 4 pills. He said “sure.” My doctor prescribed me “Benadryl” I asked can’t I just buy them OTC and take 2 pills. He said “sure.”

Okay, here’s an explanation from a doctor I know; There is stuff in the 200mg capsules, caplets or whatever besides the active ingredient. This stuff is filler. You don’t need that much filler–probably won’t hurt you, but the prescription-strength ibuprofen gives you only the amount of filler-stuff for one pill instead of 6 (or 8, or whatever).

Doctors don’t really know or care how much anything they prescribe costs. (Okay, the doc didn’t tell me that. He didn’t have to.) They will think about it if the patient mentions it, though.