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Meloxicam vs Ibuprofen, what's the difference?

Medically reviewed by Carmen Pope, BPharm. Last updated on Aug 23, 2022.

Official answer


The main differences between meloxicam and ibuprofen are:

  • Meloxicam is considered a stronger medicine than ibuprofen
  • Meloxicam is only available on prescription and ibuprofen is available over the counter as well as on prescription
  • Meloxicam is a long-acting medicine that only needs to be given once a day. Ibuprofen in its usual form needs to be given three to four times a day, although extended-release forms of ibuprofen that last 12 to 24 hours are available
  • Ibuprofen is FDA approved to treat most mild-to-moderate painful conditions, such as toothache, back pain, and primary dysmenorrhea, as well as pain or inflammation caused by arthritis. Meloxicam is only approved to treat pain or inflammation caused by arthritis
  • The risk of gastrointestinal disturbances (such as gastric ulcers) and cardiovascular events (such as heart attacks) appears higher with meloxicam compared to ibuprofen.

Both meloxicam and ibuprofen belong to the class of medicines known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). NSAIDs work by blocking enzymes that make prostaglandins, which are substances that contribute to inflammation and pain. Taking an NSAID such as ibuprofen or meloxicam reduces inflammation and pain.

What is meloxicam?

Meloxicam is the generic name for Mobic. It is an NSAID that is mainly used to treat pain from arthritis and is available by prescription as an oral 7.5 mg tablet, 10 mg tablet, and 7.5 mg/5 mL oral suspension.

The usual dosage is 7.5mg once daily although this dosage can depend on your condition and your doctor’s instructions. Maximum concentrations are reached five to six hours after a dose, and its duration of pain relief can be up to 24 hours. It is metabolized in the liver and excreted by the kidneys, and is available as a generic.

Meloxicam is not available in combination with other medicines.

What is ibuprofen?

Ibuprofen is the generic name for Advil or Motrin. It is a widely used and prescribed NSAID that is also available over the counter.

The usual dosage is 200mg to 400mg (1 to 2 tablets or capsules) every 4 to 6 hours, with a maximum of 1200mg (6 tablets or capsule) in 24 hours, unless your doctor has told you otherwise. There are also longer-lasting forms of ibuprofen available which only need to be taken once or twice a day.

Ibuprofen is also available in combination with other medicines such as diphenhydramine (Advil PM). Like meloxicam, ibuprofen is metabolized in the liver and excreted by the kidneys, and is available as a generic.

Does meloxicam have more side effects than ibuprofen?

Because meloxicam and ibuprofen are both NSAIDs, they have similar side effects, which may include abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, nausea, tinnitus, and a rash.

All NSAIDs carry a risk of cardiovascular disease, including an increased risk for blood clots, stroke, or a heart attack; however, the risk with meloxicam appears higher than with ibuprofen (only applies to ibuprofen dosages less than 3200mg/day).

Meloxicam is also more likely than ibuprofen to cause gastrointestinal (GI) disturbances, such as gastric bleeding and ulceration. Consuming more than three alcoholic beverages per day while taking any NSAID increases the risk of GI disturbances.

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