Flurbiprofen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that is a phenylalkanoic acid derivative. Although the exact mechanism of action is not well understood, the drug is thought to work by blocking the effect of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX) enzymes. COX-2 enzymes are associated with the production of prostaglandins at the injury site, which cause both pain and inflammation. Blocking COX-2 enzymes decreases prostaglandin production, thereby lowering pain and inflammation. Flurbiprofen exhibits both anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, and may have some antipyretic activity.1
Osteoarthritis: Flurbiprofen is used to relieve pain from osteoarthritis, a type of arthritis caused by a breakdown of lining in the joint. Joints that are typically affected include those in the knee, ankle, foot, elbow, wrist, and hand.
Rheumatoid Arthritis: Flurbiprofen can also be used to manage symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic, autoimmune inflammatory disorder that typically affects the small joints in the hands and feet.
Other Indications: As an NSAID, which is a large class of drugs used to treat non-specific pains, flurbiprofen is often prescribed for a variety of conditions, such as ankylosing spondylitis,dysmenorrhea, muscle pain and sprains, throat lozenges, and ophthalmic drops to reduce eye redness and irritation.
Other Information: Generally, NSAIDs can increase risk of serious cardiovascular thrombotic events, myocardial infarction, and fatal stroke. Risk may increase with duration of use.2
Side Effects and Drug Interactions
Common side effects in patients taking flurbiprofen include3:
Upset stomach or stomach pain
Constipation, diarrhea, gas, or bloating
Nausea or vomiting
Drowsiness or fatigue
Skin itch or rash
Runny nose, blurred vision, or tinnitus
Patients who suffer from chest pain, weakness, shortness of breath, slurred speech, vision or balance problems, black, bloody, or tarry stools, are coughing up blood or bloody vomit, urinating less or not at all, experience pain, burning, or bleeding when urinating, swelling, rapid weight gain, nausea, fever, loss of appetite, dark urine or clay-colored stools, sore throat, severe blistering, peeling, and red skin rash, bruising, severe tingling, numbness, pain, or muscle weakness should contact their pharmacist or physician right away.
Although there are no specific medications contraindicated for flurbiprofen, patients who are allergic to flurbiprofen, or who have perioperative pain associated with coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery should not take this medication.4 Patients with a history of asthma, urticaria, or allergic reactions to aspirin or other NSAIDs should also not take this medication. Patients who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not take this medication.
Delivered in topical solution to the eye, this drug may cause acetylcholine chloride and carbachol to be ineffective. Patients who take other medications that prolong bleeding time, or topical steroids should also use flurbiprofen with caution.5 Patients taking other NSAIDs or who have bleeding tendencies should speak to their pharmacist or physician before starting this medication. Adverse reactions in this delivery method include ocular irritation, fibrosis, hyphema, miosis, mydriasis, ocular hyperemia, and increased bleeding tendency of ocular tissues.
Latest News and Research
Flurbiprofen belongs to the class of arylpropionic acids, which includes the popular drugs ibuprofen and naproxen, alongside ketoprofen, dexketoprofen, fenoprofen, and oxaprozin, all developed in the 1960s.6 The uniqueness of flurbiprofen in its class comes from not only its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, but also its potential against dermatophytes and yeast pathogens, making it a potent skin ointment.7 Studies regarding how to best deliver flurbiprofen through the skin layer are ongoing.8
The potential of flurbiprofen to work against obesity through leptin resistance9 is under study, as is the promise of the drug to protect liver function in surgeries such as liver transplantation or tumor resections beyond flurbiprofen’s role as pain relief.10
“Ocufen (flurbiprofen sodium) – Drug Summary,” 2015, http://www.pdr.net/drug-summary/Ocufen-flurbiprofen-sodium-1118.1323 ↩
“Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs Comparison, December 18, 2015, http://www.emedexpert.com/compare/nsaids.shtml ↩
“Flurbiprofen, a unique non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug with antimicrobial activity against Trichophyton, Microsporum and Epidermophyton species,” 2003, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12859660 ↩
“Nanostructured lipid carriers (NLC) based topical gel of flurbiprofen: Design, characterization and in vivo evaluation,” December 12, 2012, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378517312008472 ↩
“Therapeutic potential of flurbiprofen against obesity in mice,” June 20, 2014, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006291X14008389 ↩
“Flurbiprofen, a Cyclooxygenase Inhibitor, Protects Mice from Hepatic Ischemia/Reperfusion Injury by Inhibiting GSK-3β Signaling and Mitochondrial Permeability Transition,” June 13, 2012, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3474435/ ↩