Is There a Difference Between Motrin and Advil?

Advil and Motrin are both brand-name products containing the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) ibuprofen. These medications can temporarily relieve minor pain and reduce fever. Because they have the same active ingredient, there is no difference between Advil and Motrin regarding how they are used, how well they work, and their safety profiles.

This article will discuss the similarities and differences between Advil and Motrin, how to use each product, and their side effects and safety information.

Unopened blister pack of pink pills next to a glass of water

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Are Advil and Motrin the Same?

Advil and Motrin contain the same active ingredient but may differ in inactive ingredients. Both product names can be used interchangeably to refer to the NSAID ibuprofen, which was developed in the 1960s and has been available over the counter (OTC) in the United States since 1984.

Advil and Motrin are available in tablet, liquid-filled capsules, and oral suspension forms. There are many generic ibuprofen products, including store brands, which usually are available at a lower cost than the brand-name products.

Advil and Motrin are equally effective at relieving minor aches and pains from the following:

Both medications can also temporarily reduce fever.

However, it is important to note that because Advil and Motrin have the same active ingredient and are both NSAIDs, you should not use them simultaneously.

Other Advil and Motrin Products

In addition to single-ingredient Advil or Motrin, which contain just ibuprofen, each brand's manufacturer markets multiple-ingredient products under these brand names. These products contain more than one active ingredient and are different from one another in their uses.

Examples of these include:

  • Motrin PM, which combines ibuprofen and diphenhydramine, an antihistamine used as a sleep aid
  • Advil Cold & Sinus, which combines ibuprofen and pseudoephedrine, a decongestant
  • Dual-action products, called Motrin Dual-Action and Advil Dual-Action, which contain ibuprofen and acetaminophen

Moreover, some Advil and Motrin products do not contain ibuprofen. For example, Motrin Arthritis Pain Relief Gel, which is applied to the skin, contains no ibuprofen but rather the NSAID diclofenac.

To avoid taking more than the maximum recommended dosage of ibuprofen, carefully read package labeling, paying special attention to the active ingredients when selecting an OTC ibuprofen product. 

Side Effects and Safety

Oral NSAIDs are generally safe and well-tolerated when taken according to package instructions or as prescribed by a healthcare provider. The most common side effects are:

  • Stomach upset
  • Indigestion
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Abdominal pain

Serious side effects include gastric or intestinal ulcers and bleeding. The following may put you at higher risk:

  • Age 60 years and older
  • A history of stomach ulcers or bleeding problems
  • Taking a blood thinner, such as Jantoven (warfarin) or a steroid drug like prednisone
  • Taking other drugs containing NSAIDs, including other ibuprofen brands, aspirin, or naproxen
  • Drinking three or more alcoholic beverages a day while taking it
  • Taking more than directed or for an extended period

Do not take Advil or Motrin under these conditions:

  • Directly before or after having a type of heart surgery called a coronary bypass graft (CABG)
  • If you are allergic to ibuprofen or any of the other ingredients in Advil or Motrin
  • If you are 20 weeks or later in pregnancy
  • If you have recently had a heart attack

People who use NSAIDs have also been shown to be at an increased risk of heart complications, such as heart attack or stroke, compared with those who don't take this drug. Consult your healthcare provider if you or your family has a history of heart disease, heart attacks, or strokes.

Call 911 for Signs of a Heart Attack or Stroke

Immediately get medical help if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Discomfort in your upper body, such as in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach
  • Weakness in one part or side of the body
  • Face drooping
  • Slurred speech
  • Light-headedness

How to Take Advil and Motrin

There are no dosage differences between Advil and Motrin. Most OTC ibuprofen tablets contain 200 milligrams of ibuprofen in each tablet. It is recommended that adults and children 12 and older take ibuprofen every four to six hours, as needed.

Prescription ibuprofen tablets range in strength from 400 milligrams to 800 milligrams. These are usually taken three or four times daily for arthritis or every four to six hours, as needed.

Combination products with more than one active ingredient may contain a different amount of ibuprofen. It is important to read the package ingredients carefully to determine the strength of ibuprofen in the product you’ve purchased. Follow package instructions for OTC dosing or the instructions from a healthcare provider to decide how much to take. 

Dosing Safety for Ibuprofen

Taking more ibuprofen than prescribed could result in liver or kidney damage.

If taking more than one product that contains ibuprofen, account for the total daily milligrams of ibuprofen in each product and do not exceed the maximum dosage recommended by a healthcare provider.

Because Advil and Motrin both contain the active ingredient ibuprofen, they should not be taken together.


Advil and Motrin are OTC medications commonly used to treat headaches, minor pain, and fevers. They are brand names of the NSAID ibuprofen. Although separate manufacturers produce them, both products contain the same active ingredient and are equally effective. They should not be taken together.

Be sure to read package labeling carefully to identify active ingredients and recommended dosages. Products with similar brand names may contain the different active ingredients.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is Advil or Motrin more effective than Tylenol?

    Advil and Motrin (ibuprofen) are NSAIDs used to treat pain and inflammation and reduce fevers. Tylenol (acetaminophen) also treats pain and fevers but does not reduce inflammation. Acetaminophen works differently than ibuprofen so they can be taken together. Ibuprofen has been shown to be as effective as acetaminophen for treating pain and fevers in children and adults.

  • What other brand names are available for ibuprofen?

    These brand names of ibuprofen are available in the United States:

    • Advil
    • Midol
    • Motrin
    • Motrin IB

    Ibuprofen is also sold by other brand names in other countries.

  • Is Motrin stronger than Advil?

    Motrin and Advil are both name brands for the same drug, ibuprofen. Per milligram, they are the same in strength.

15 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. DailyMed. Label: Advil- ibuprofen tablet, coated.

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  9. DailyMed. Label: Motrin Arthritis Pain- diclofenac sodium gel.

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By Carrie Yuan, PharmD
Carrie Yuan PharmD is a clinical pharmacist with expertise in chronic disease medication management for conditions encountered in primary care.