Taking a combination of paracetamol and ibuprofen has been found to be more effective at relieving some types of pain than taking one or the other. A few years ago, combination paracetamol and ibuprofen pills became available. The catch? The cost: instead of around 2 cents per pill for generic paracetamol, and 6 cents for ibuprofen, these combo tablets cost from 30c to $1.
NPS Medicinewise cautions consumers to read the dosage instructions and product warnings of combination products carefully. Different brands have different amounts of active ingredient, and different dosage instructions. They also warn that taking paracetamol and ibuprofen together increases the risk of side effects beyond either drug alone, and they're not suitable for children under 12 and adults over 65.
A 2017 report noted that there was a spike in calls to the NSW Poisons Information Centre after the pills were downgraded from "pharmacist only medicine" to "pharmacy medicine", when consumers could buy it without consulting a pharmacist. Typically, people were taking two tablets instead of the recommended one, because that's what they were used to doing.
Combination pills aren't suitable for all types of pain, where paracetamol or ibuprofen would be a better choice. And if you haven't taken combination pills before, speak to your doctor or pharmacist first.