Ibuprofen has proven to be a very powerful painkiller, but now we have what could be a much more efficient way of administering it. Scientists in the UK in partnership with drug delivery firm Medherant have come up with a clear gel patch that administers the drug over the course of half a day. It's simple, convenient, and it can be worn discreetly under clothes.

The patch is strong enough to adhere to the skin, while retaining the flexiblity it needs to avoid interfering with the natural movements of the body. For those who need pain relief quickly, slapping on one or two of these patches over the course of a day is going to be much more straightforward than remembering to take a dose of pills every 4 hours or so.

The patch can be used to administer the drug exactly where it's needed at a consistent dose rate, and up to 30 percent of the material's weight can be the Ibuprofen itself (most existing patches top out at 10 percent). As the team at the University of Warwick explains:

"This opens the way for the development of a range of novel long-acting over-the-counter pain relief products which can be used to treat common painful conditions like chronic back pain, neuralgia and arthritis without the need to take potentially damaging doses of the drug orally. Although there are a number of popular Ibuprofen gels available these make it difficult to control dosage and are inconvenient to apply."

According to the researchers, finding a polymer that sticks to the skin without leaving a residue was no easy task - and after overcoming that initial hurdle, they had to identify a drug that would dissolve as required.

Ibuprofen was the painkiller that fitted the bill, and Nigel Davis, CEO of Medherant, says the first consumer patches could be available and on sale within two years.

"Many commercial patches surprisingly don't contain any pain relief agents at all, they simply soothe the body by a warming effect," says David Haddleton, one of the research chemists.

"Our technology now means that we can for the first time produce patches that contain effective doses of active ingredients such as Ibuprofen for which no patches currently exist," he adds. "Also, we can improve the drug loading and stickiness of patches containing other active ingredients to improve patient comfort and outcome."

We can't wait to give one of these things a try.