What’s the Difference Between Ibuprofen & Acetaminophen?

Alyssa Corso
Alyssa Corso17 Sep 2021

Acetaminophen and ibuprofen are more commonly referred to as Tylenol and Advil. These are their most popular brand names. Ibuprofen is an anti-inflammatory medication that reduces inflammation and pain. They can both be used to reduce fever. Acetaminophen is used for pain and to reduce fever. 

Ibuprofen vs. Acetaminophen

According to Sapna Patel, Director of Clinical Services at Mosaic Pharmacy Services, “Ibuprofen is an anti-inflammatory medication that reduces inflammation and pain. It can also be used to reduce fever. Acetaminophen is used for pain and to reduce fever.”

Acetaminophen belongs to a class of drugs called analgesics. Ibuprofen belongs to the drug class called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). 


Ibuprofen and acetaminophen come in many different forms, including:

  • oral tablets
  • oral capsules
  • oral suspension
  • chewable tablets

Ibuprofen also comes in concentrated oral drops. Acetaminophen comes in these other forms:

  • oral elixir
  • oral solution
  • extended-release oral tablets and caplets
  • rectal suppositories
  • rapid melt tablets
  • effervescent tablets

Brand Names

Ibuprofen and acetaminophen are more commonly referred to as Tylenol and Advil. 

Brand Names for Acetaminophen & Ibuprofen

Ibutab 200NeoPAP

The Cost for Ibuprofen & Acetaminophen

The average cost for 30 tablets, 800mg each of the generic version of ibuprofen, is $11.99. The average price for acetaminophen 500 mg is around $10 for a supply of 10 tablets, depending on the pharmacy you visit. 

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Ibuprofen Cost

The recommended dosage for adults is one or two 200 milligrams (mg) tablets every four to six hours. Adults should not exceed 800 mg at once or 3,200 mg per day.

This chart reflects the price per unit of 200 mg oral tablet of ibuprofen.

QuantityPer unitPrice

Source: https://www.drugs.com/price-guide/ibuprofen

Acetaminophen Cost

The maximum daily dose for a healthy adult who weighs at least 150 pounds is 4,000 milligrams (mg). 

However, in some people, taking the maximum daily dose for extended periods can seriously damage the liver in some people It's best to take the lowest dose necessary and stay closer to 3,000 mg per day as your maximum dose.

This chart reflects the price per unit of oral tablet extended release 650 mg of acetaminophen.

QuantityPer unitPrice
30 (5 x 6 each)$0.42$12.73
100$0.15 – $0.20$14.74 – $20.28

Source: https://www.drugs.com/price-guide/acetaminophen

Side Effects 

Ibuprofen Side Effects

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Constipation
  • Bleeding or ulceration of the stomach (mainly in the elderly)

Acetaminophen Side Effects

Patels says acetaminophen is tolerated pretty well by most people; the most common side effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
Ibuprofen vs Acetaminophen side effects
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Can Children Take Ibuprofen & Acetaminophen?

Patel says, “Ibuprofen is safe to take in children six months and over. Children 6 months and under can take acetaminophen for fever. Both medications are dosed in children according to weight. Regardless of age, both medicines can be harmful if taken in excess. 

Too much acetaminophen can cause long-term liver damage, and too much ibuprofen can cause long-term liver and/or kidney damage, along with bleeding ulcers in the stomach. It’s very important to consult with your pediatrician or pharmacist on dosing and which medications are best for your child."

Who Should Avoid Ibuprofen & Acetaminophen

“Acetaminophen should be used cautiously and under the supervision of your doctor if you have kidney disease. On the other hand, Ibuprofen should be used cautiously by individuals that are elderly or have a history of clotting disorders, high blood pressure, or kidney problems”, says Patel. 

Drug Interactions

Both medications can cause dangerous interactions when you take them with certain medicines. To reduce your risk, make sure you tell your doctor about all drugs, supplements, and herbs you take.

Both acetaminophen and ibuprofen can interact with alcohol and the blood thinner warfarin.

Acetaminophen also interacts with:

  • aprepitant
  • carbamazepine
  • cholestyramine
  • dasatinib
  • fosaprepitant
  • imatinib
  • isoniazid
  • lamotrigine
  • metyrapone
  • phenobarbital
  • phenytoin
  • probenecid
  • sorafenib

Ibuprofen also interacts with:

  • aspirin
  • enalapril
  • furosemide hydrochlorothiazide
  • ketoralac
  • lisinopril
  • lithium

Are Ibuprofen & Acetaminophen Available Over-the-Counter?

“Both medications are available over-the-counter,” says Patel. Both acetaminophen and ibuprofen are available over-the-counter in many other products. It’s very important to check the labels of all prescription and over-the-counter medications to prevent overdose". 

Alyssa Corso

Alyssa is a Senior Marketing Associate & Content Writer at Mira. She is passionate about educating others on how to affordably access healthcare.