New Ibuprofen Formulation May Avoid Cardiac Side Effects Interview with:

Dr Nicholas Kirkby BHF Intermediate Fellow | Vascular Biology National Heart & Lung Institute | Imperial College London London

Dr Nicholas Kirkby

Dr Nicholas Kirkby
BHF Intermediate Fellow | Vascular Biology
National Heart & Lung Institute | Imperial College London
London What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: We know drugs like ibuprofen, called ‘non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs’ cause an increase in the risk of heart attacks. These side effects cause very real concerns for the many millions of people who rely on them. They are also the reason why there are no new drugs in this class and why they have been withdrawn (2011) for use as a preventative treatment for colon cancer. Previous research from our group suggests that L-arginine supplements may prevent the cardiovascular side effects caused by these drugs. Our findings here suggest that a particular formulations of ibuprofen, called ibuprofen arginate, which is already available in many parts of the world, can act like an L-arginine supplement and that this could potentially protect the cardiovascular system. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: If we are right arginine formulations of anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen arginate, will be safer drugs because we think that they will protect the cardiovascular system from the harmful effects that these anti-inflammatory drugs have in the kidney and in blood vessels. However, there is no need to wait until we know if we are right or not before the drug can be used because L-arginine formulations of ibuprofen are already currently available over the counter in many parts of the world and are both safe and effective. Until we do more tests however we would recommend that the current advice for all forms of ibuprofen be followed. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Although these drugs are already available and widely used, we now want to test directly the effects of ibuprofen arginate on cardiovascular function in healthy people and people with cardiovascular disease. Eventually larger clinical trials could be performed to directly test whether ibuprofen arginate is safer than other forms of the drug. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: Millions of people with arthritis and pain depend on ibuprofen and related drugs to treat their symptoms and go about their daily lives. Many more could benefit from the potential these drugs have to prevent cancer. Solving the problem of the cardiovascular side effects caused by these drugs is therefore one of the most important challenges in drug research today. If we are right, we think our findings could be potentially game-changing. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


N. S. Kirkby, A. Tesfai, B. Ahmetaj-Shala, H. H. Gashaw, W. Sampaio, G. Etelvino, N. M. Leao, R. A. Santos, J. A. Mitchell. Ibuprofen arginate retains eNOS substrate activity and reverses endothelial dysfunction: implications for the COX-2/ADMA axis. The FASEB Journal, 2016; DOI:10.1096/fj.201600647R

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Last Updated on October 17, 2016 by Marie Benz MD FAAD