Antimicrobial activity of ibuprofen: New perspectives on an “Old” non-antibiotic drug

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Pharmaceutical industry has been encountering antimicrobial activity of non-antibiotics during suitability tests carried out prior to routine pharmacopoeial microbiological purity analysis of finished dosage forms. These properties are usually ignored or perceived as a nuisance during pharmaceutical analysis.

The aim of this study was: (i) to compare the available data to our method suitability test results carried out on products containing ibuprofen, i.e. to demonstrate that method suitability can be a valuable tool in identifying new antimicrobials, (ii) to demonstrate the antimicrobial activity of ibuprofen and ibuprofen lysine.

Microbiological purity method suitability testing was carried out according to European Pharmacopoeia (EP), chapters 2.6.12. and 2.6.13. Antimicrobial activity of ibuprofen and ibuprofen lysine was demonstrated by a disk diffusion method, a modification of the European Committee for Antimicrobial Susceptibility Testing method (EUCAST), against test microorganisms recommended in the EP.

It was confirmed that ibuprofen may be responsible for the broad spectrum of antimicrobial activity of the tested products, and that method suitability tests according to the EP can indeed be exploited by the scientific community in setting guidelines towards future research of new antimicrobials. In the disk diffusion assay, inhibition zones were obtained with more than 62.5 μg and 250 μg for Staphylococcus aureus, 125 μg and 250 μg for Bacillus subtilis, 31.3 μg and 125 μg for Candidaalbicans, 31.3 μg and 62.5 μg for Aspergillusbrasiliensis, of ibuprofen/disk, and ibuprofen lysine/disk, respectively. For Escherichiacoli, Pseudomonasaeruginosa and Salmonellatyphimurium inhibition zones were not obtained.

Antimicrobial activity of ibuprofen is considered merely as a side effect, and it is not mentioned in the patient information leaflets of ibuprofen drugs. As such, for the patient, it could represent an advantage, but, it could also introduce additional risks during usage. Further microbiological, pharmacological and clinical trials are of great importance.

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