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What are the inactive ingredients in ibuprofen?

Medically reviewed by Carmen Pope, BPharm. Last updated on Sep 29, 2022.

Official answer

by Drugs.com

The inactive ingredients contained in ibuprofen products vary depending on the manufacturer, but may include carnauba wax, colloidal silicon dioxide, croscarmellose sodium, hypromellose, magnesium stearate, microcrystalline cellulose, polydextrose, polyethylene glycol, polysorbate, or titanium dioxide. Inactive ingredients also vary depending on if it is a tablet, capsule, caplet, or suspension.

Ibuprofen is the active ingredient.

List of common inactive ingredients in ibuprofen tablets, caplets, and capsules

Inactive ingredients in tablets, caplets, and capsules are added to bulk out the dosage form, help stick it together or stabilize it, help with absorption by the body, or make it look appealing to take.

Examples of inactive ingredients contained in ibuprofen include fillers (such as silicon dioxide, corn starch, or lactose), dyes or colorings (such as FD&C Blue#2, FD&C Red#40, or FD&C Yellow#6), preservatives (such as polyethylene glycol), flavors (such as sucrose), and disintegrating agents (such as sodium starch glycolate). A recent study showed that some “inactive” ingredients aren’t actually inactive and are capable of causing allergic reactions or irritations in certain people.

The ingredient list for a preparation can change without warning, so you should always check the back of the box for a list of ingredients, just in case. Some common inactive ingredients that could be an ingredient in your ibuprofen tablets, caplets, or capsules are listed below. For more information about the reason the ingredient is included in the ibuprofen product, click on the link.

  • Acetylated monoglycerides: emulsifier, helps stabilize lipid components and prevents separation. Improves texture and consistency. Extends shelf life
  • Corn starch: disintegrant and binder
  • Croscarmellose sodium: disintegrant
  • FD&C Blue#2: colorant
  • FD&C Green #3: colorant
  • FD&C Red#40: colorant
  • FD&C Yellow#6: colorant
  • Hypromellose: coating agent and film-former
  • Iron (ferric) oxide(s): adds color (pigment)
  • Lactose: filler with excellent compressibility properties
  • Magnesium stearate: lubricant and release agent (prevents tablets sticking to equipment) or as a coating
  • Maltodextrin: filler, slightly sweet
  • Medium chain triglycerides: carrier agent and emollient. Has a bland taste and low natural odor
  • Methylparaben: preservative
  • Microcrystalline cellulose: anti-caking agent, stabilizer, texture modifier, and suspending agent. Made from refined wood pulp, it has excellent compressibility properties. Tablets can be formed that are hard, but dissolve quickly
  • Pharmaceutical glaze: coating material that improves the product's appearance, extends its shelf life, protects it from moisture, masks unpleasant odors and aids in the swallowing
  • Pharmaceutical ink: colorant
  • Povidone: dispersant, suspending agent, disintegrant and tablet binder
  • Povidone K-30: dispersant, suspending agent, binder
  • Pregelatinized starch: partially hydrolyzed starch that flows better than starch during tableting and acts as a binder to improve tablet durability and integrity. Derived from corn
  • Propylparaben: preservative
  • Polydextrose: filler, tastes sweet
  • Polyethylene glycol: lubricant and release agent (prevents tablets sticking to equipment), improves solubility
  • Polysorbate 80: solubilizing agent
  • Polyvinyl alcohol: improves viscosity (thickening agent)
  • Silicon dioxide (colloidal): anti-caking agent, adsorbent, disintegrant, glidant (prevents tablets sticking to equipment)
  • Sodium benzoate: preservative, flavoring agent, capsule lubricant
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate: surfactant, helps dissolvable dosage forms dissolve
  • Sodium starch glycolate: disintegrant, suspending agent and gelling agent. From either rice, potato, wheat or corn origin
  • Starch: disintegrant, diluent, glidant, and binder. Typically derived from corn or potato
  • Stearic acid: emulsifying agent, solubilizing agent, and lubricant
  • Sucrose: sweetener
  • Talc: anti-caking agent, prevents tablets sticking to equipment
  • Titanium dioxide: bright white pigment (makes a tablet look very white)
  • Triacetin: humectant, plasticizer, and solvent
  • White wax: Wax that has been bleached. Used for tablet coatings and binding.

What are the inactive ingredients in ibuprofen suspension or liquid formulations?

Inactive ingredients contained in ibuprofen liquid preparations, such as ibuprofen suspension, also vary depending on the preparation and the manufacturer. These inactive ingredients have been added to suspend the ibuprofen, disguise its taste, help absorption into the body, or to preserve it so it doesn’t grow microbes such as bacteria or fungi.

Inactive ingredients include suspending agents (such as carboxymethylcellulose), colorings (such as FD&C Blue#1, Red#40), preservatives (such as propylene glycol), flavors (such as bubblegum, grape, or cherry), and thickeners (such as xanthan gum). Some artificial food colors have been found to influence children’s behavior and other “inactive” ingredients have been associated with allergic reactions or irritations.

The ingredient list for a preparation can change without warning, so you should always check the back of the box for a list of ingredients, just in case. Some common inactive ingredients that could be an ingredient in your ibuprofen suspension or liquid formulation are listed below. For more information about the reason the ingredient is included in the ibuprofen product, click on the link.

What are the active and inactive ingredients in popular brands and generics of ibuprofen?

Ibuprofen tablets/caplets/capsules

Advanced First Aid Ibuprofen 250 tablets/2 tablets per packe‚Äčt 67060-002-67, 67060-002-68
Active ingredient: Ibuprofen
Inactive ingredients: croscarmellose sodium, FD& C Blue #2, FD& C Red #40, FD& C Yellow #6, hypromellose, iron oxide red, lactose monohydrate, magnesium stearate, maltodextrin, medium chain triglycerides, microcrystalline cellulose, polydextrose, polyethylene glycol, polyvinyl alcohol, Povidone (K-30), silicon dioxide, sodium starch glycolate, starch, stearic acid, talc, titanium dioxide, triacetin.

Advanced First Aid Ibuprofen 67060-750-67, 67060-750-68 Active ingredient: Ibuprofen
Inactive Ingredients: colloidal silicon dioxide, croscarmellose sodium, iron oxide red, magnesium stearate, microcrystalline cellulose, polyethylene glycol, polyvinyl alcohol, pregelantinized starch, talc, titanium dioxide.

Advil Tablets
Active ingredient: Ibuprofen
Inactive Ingredients: acetylated monoglycerides, colloidal silicon dioxide, corn starch, croscarmellose sodium, methylparaben, microcrystalline cellulose, pharmaceutical glaze, pharmaceutical ink, povidone, pregelatinized starch, propylparaben, sodium benzoate, sodium lauryl sulfate, stearic acid, sucrose, synthetic iron oxide, titanium dioxide, white wax

Advil Caplets
Active ingredient: Ibuprofen
Inactive Ingredients: acetylated monoglycerides, colloidal silicon dioxide, corn starch, croscarmellose sodium, methylparaben, microcrystalline cellulose, pharmaceutical glaze, pharmaceutical ink, povidone, pregelatinized starch, propylparaben, sodium benzoate, sodium lauryl sulfate, stearic acid, sucrose, synthetic iron oxide, titanium dioxide, white wax

Advil Gel Caplets
Active ingredient: Ibuprofen
Inactive Ingredients: colloidal silicon dioxide, corn starch, croscarmellose sodium, FD&C red no. 40, FD&C yellow no. 6, fractionated coconut oil, gelatin, glycerin, hypromellose, pharmaceutical ink, pregelatinized starch, propyl gallate, purified water, sodium lauryl sulfate, stearic acid, synthetic iron oxides, titanium dioxide, triacetin

Basic’s (Basic Drugs)
Active ingredient: Ibuprofen
Inactive ingredients: colloidal silicon dioxide, iron oxide red, maize starch, polyethylene glycol, povidone k-30, pregelatinized starch, sodium starch glycolate, stearic acid, talc, titanium dioxide.

Cardinal Health Ibuprofen
Active ingredient: Ibuprofen
Inactive ingredients: Microcrystalline cellulose, copovidone K25-31, sodium starch glycolate type A potato, silicon dioxide, polysorbate 80, magnesium stearate.

Chartwell RX Ibuprofen
Active ingredient: Ibuprofen
Inactive ingredients: carnauba wax, colloidal silicon dioxide, croscarmellose sodium, hypromellose, magnesium stearate, microcrystalline cellulose, polydextrose, polyethylene glycol, polysorbate, titanium dioxide.

Clear Choice Ibuprofen tablets
Active ingredient: Ibuprofen
Inactive ingredients: colloidal silicon dioxide, corn starch, FD&C yellow #6, hypromellose, polydextrose, polyethylene glycol, povidone, pregelatinized starch, purified water, sodium starch glycolate, stearic acid, titanium dioxide

Equate Ibuprofen
Active ingredient: Ibuprofen
Inactive ingredients: colloidal silicon dioxide, corn starch, croscarmellose sodium, hypromellose, iron oxide red, iron oxide yellow, microcrystalline cellulose, polyethylene glycol, polysorbate 80, stearic acid, titanium dioxide.

Health A to Z (Allegiant Health) Ibuprofen (liquid filled capsules)
Active ingredient: Solubilized Ibuprofen
Inactive ingredients: ammonium hydroxide, FD&C green #3 aluminum lake, gelatin, iron oxide black, medium chain triglycerides, polyethylene glycol, propylene glycol, potassium hydroxide, purified water, shellac, sorbitol, sorbitan monooleate

Health A to Z (Allegiant Health) Ibuprofen (tablet)
Active ingredient: Ibuprofen USP
Inactive ingredients: colloidal silicon dioxide, corn starch, FD&C yellow #6, hypromellose, polydextrose, polyethylene glycol, povidone, pregelatinized starch, purified water, sodium starch glycolate, stearic acid, titanium dioxide.

Health A to Z Fast Relief Medicine for Pain (Allegiant Health) Ibuprofen (tablet)
Active ingredient: Ibuprofen USP
Inactive ingredients: corn starch, hypromellose, iron oxide red, magnesium stearate, microcrystalline cellulose, pregelatinized starch, silicon dioxide, sodium starch glycolate, talc, titanium dioxide, triacetin

Health Pharma Ibuprofen
Active ingredient: Ibuprofen
Inactive ingredients: colloidal silicon dioxide, corn starch. hypromellose, iron oxide red, lactose monohydrate, povidone k30, sodium starch glycolate, stearic acid, titanium dioxide, triacetin

Mckesson Ibuprofen
Active ingredient: Ibuprofen
Inactive ingredients: colloidal silicon dioxide, corn starch, iron oxide red, polyethylene glycol, polyvinyl alcohol, povidone (K-30), sodium starch glycolate, stearic acid, talc, titanium dioxide

Motrin IB Tablet (film coated)
Active ingredient: Ibuprofen
Inactive ingredients: colloidal silicon dioxide, corn starch, croscarmellose sodium, FD&C red no. 40 aluminum lake, FD&C yellow no. 6 aluminum lake, iron oxides, microcrystalline cellulose, polyethylene glycol, polyvinyl alcohol, stearic acid, talc, titanium dioxide

Motrin IB Liquid-filled Capsule
Active ingredient: Ibuprofen
Inactive ingredients: gelatin, pharmaceutical ink, polyethylene glycol, potassium hydroxide, purified water, sorbitan and sorbitol

Physician’s Care tablets
Active ingredient: Ibuprofen
Inactive ingredients: carnauba wax, corn starch, hypromellose, iron oxide red, lactose, magnesium stearate, microcrystalline cellulose, polydextrose, polyethylene glycol, polyvinyl alcohol, povidone K30, silicon dioxide, sodium starch glycolate, stearic acid, talc, titanium dioxide

Redicare tablets
Active ingredient: Ibuprofen
Inactive ingredients: Colloidal silicon dioxide, croscarmellose sodium, iron oxide red, magnesium stearate, microcrystalline cellulose, polyethylene glycol, polyvinyl alcohol, pregelantinized starch, talc, titanium dioxide.

Safrel Ibuprofen
Active ingredient: Ibuprofen
Inactive ingredients: colloidal silicon dioxide, corn starch. hypromellose, iron oxide red, lactose monohydrate, povidone k30, sodium starch glycolate, stearic acid, titanium dioxide, triacetin

Soundbody Ibuprofen (Allegiant Health)
Active ingredient: Solubilized Ibuprofen
Inactive ingredients: Ammonium hydroxide, FD&C green #3, gelatin, iron oxide black, medium chain triglycerides, polyethylene glycol, propylene glycol, potassium hydroxide, purified water, shellac, sorbitan monooleate, sorbitol, sorbitan

Target Ibuprofen Minis (liquid-filled capsules)
Active ingredient: Solubilized Ibuprofen
Inactive ingredients: ammonium hydroxide, FD&C green no. 3, gelatin, iron oxide black, medium chain triglycerides, polyethylene glycol, potassium hydroxide, propylene glycol, purified water, shellac, sorbitan monooleate, sorbital, sorbitan

Timely Ibuprofen softgels
Active ingredient: Solubilized Ibuprofen
Inactive ingredients: Ammonium hydroxide, FD&C green #3, gelatin, iron oxide black, medium chain triglycerides, polyethylene glycol, propylene glycol, potassium hydroxide, purified water, shellac, sorbitan monooleate, sorbitol, sorbitan

Walgreens (caplets)
Active ingredient: Ibuprofen
Inactive ingredients: colloidal silicon dioxide, corn starch, croscarmellose sodium, FD&C red no. 40 aluminum lake, FD&C yellow no. 6 aluminum lake, iron oxides, microcrystalline cellulose, polyethylene glycol, polyvinyl alcohol, stearic acid, talc, titanium dioxide

Walgreens (easy open caplets)
Active ingredient: Ibuprofen
Inactive ingredients: carnauba wax, colloidal silicon dioxide, corn starch, FD&C yellow #6 aluminum lake, hypromellose, lactose anhydrous, magnesium stearate, microcrystalline cellulose, polydextrose, polyethylene glycol, sodium starch glycolate, stearic acid, titanium dioxide

Walgreens (liquid-filled)
Active ingredient: Solubilized ibuprofen
Inactive ingredients: FD&C Red #40, FD&C Yellow #6, gelatin, pharmaceutical ink, polyethylene glycol, potassium hydroxide, purified water, sorbitan and sorbitol

Walgreens (dye free, liquid-filled)
Active ingredient: Solubilized ibuprofen
Inactive ingredients: gelatin, pharmaceutical ink, polyethylene glycol, potassium hydroxide, purified water, sorbitan and sorbitol

XL-DOL Ibuprofen softgels
Active ingredient: Solubilized Ibuprofen
Inactive ingredients: Ammonium hydroxide, FD&C green #3, gelatin, iron oxide black, medium chain triglycerides, polyethylene glycol, propylene glycol, potassium hydroxide, purified water, shellac, sorbitan monooleate, sorbitol

Ibuprofen suspension/liquid formulations

Advil Suspension (Infants’s) 50mg/1.25mL
Active ingredients: ibuprofen
Inactive ingredients: acetic acid, artificial flavor (white grape), butylated hydroxytoluene, carboxymethylcellulose, citric acid monohydrate, edetate disodium, glycerin, microcrystalline cellulose, polysorbate 80, propylene glycol, purified water, sodium benzoate, sorbitol, sucrose, xanthan gum

Advil Suspension (Children’s) 100mg/5mL (various flavors)
Active ingredients: ibuprofen
Inactive ingredients: carboxymethylcellulose, citric acid monohydrate, edetate disodium, FD&C (varies, blue#1 red#40), natural and artificial flavor (Varies eg, grape, bubblegum; blue Raspberry; fruit) glycerin, microcrystalline cellulose, polysorbate 80, propylene glycol, water, sodium benzoate, sodium citrate, sorbitol, sucrose, xanthan gum

Advil Suspension (Children’s) 100mg/5mL (sugar-free, dye-free)
Active ingredients: ibuprofen
Inactive ingredients: carboxymethylcellulose, citric acid monohydrate, edetate disodium, artificial berry flavor, glycerin, microcrystalline cellulose, polysorbate 80, propylene glycol, purified water, sodium benzoate, sorbitol solution, sucralose, xanthan gum

Amazon (Basic Care) Infants Ibuprofen 50mg/1.25mL (Dye-free and drops)
Active ingredients: ibuprofen
Inactive ingredients: anhydrous citric acid, glycerin, hypromellose, natural and artificial berry flavor, polysorbate 80, sodium benzoate, sorbitol, sucrose, xanthan gum, purified water

Amazon Infants (Basic Care) Ibuprofen 50mg/1.25mL
Active ingredients: ibuprofen
Inactive ingredients: anhydrous citric acid, FD&C red#40, glycerin, hypromellose, natural and artificial berry flavor, polysorbate 80, purified water, sodium benzoate, sorbitol, sucrose, xanthan gum

CareOne Infant’s Ibuprofen Suspension 50mg/1.25mL
Active ingredients: ibuprofen
Inactive ingredients: anhydrous citric acid, natural and artificial mixed berry flavor, FD&C red #40, glycerin, hypromellose, polysorbate 80, purified water, sodium benzoate, sorbitol solution, sucrose, xanthan gum

CareOne Children’s Ibuprofen Suspension 100mg/5mL
Active ingredients: ibuprofen
Inactive ingredients: anhydrous citric acid, artificial mixed berry flavor, D&C yellow #10, FD&C red #40, glycerin, high fructose corn syrup, hypromellose, polysorbate 80, purified water, sodium benzoate, sorbitol solution, xanthan gum

Leader Ibuprofen suspension
Active ingredients: ibuprofen
Inactive ingredients: anhydrous citric acid, FD&C red#40, glycerin, high fructose corn syrup, Hypromellose, natural and artificial bubblegum flavors, polysorbate 80, sodium benzoate, sorbitol solution, xanthan gum

Perrigo Ibuprofen Suspension 100mg/5ml
Active ingredients: ibuprofen
Inactive ingredients: anhydrous citric acid, butylparaben, FD&C red#33, FD&C yellow#6, glycerin, high fructose corn syrup, hypromellose, polysorbate 80, propylene glycol, sodium benzoate, sorbitol, xanthan gum

References
  • Reker D, Blum S, Steiger C, et al. “Inactive” ingredients in oral medications Science Translational Medicine 2019;11(483)  https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/scitranslmed.aau6753
  • Arnold, L. E., Lofthouse, N., & Hurt, E. (2012). Artificial Food Colors and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Symptoms: Conclusions to Dye for. Neurotherapeutics, 9(3), 599-609. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13311-012-0133-x
  • All ingredients sourced through Daily Med.

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