After a long, tough day at work, actor Ryan Agoncillo can’t afford to give the excuse, “Not tonight, honey, I’ve got a headache.” He isn’t just addressing wife Judy Ann Santos but also his children Johanna, 10, and Juan Luis, 5.
Aside from racing cars and motorcycles, Agoncillo trains for off-road triathlons, which are more intense than the standard triathlons. He has to wake up early for training after long hours of taping. The sleep-deprived actor sometimes gets headaches during the day from fatigue and stress.
To cope with pain, he’s been taking a paracetamol, a pain reliever. “I’m allergic to ibuprofen (an anti-inflammatory drug),” he says.
“Pain can be a distraction from bonding with the people you love,” says Angelica Martija, marketing director of the Consumer Health Division of the pharmaceutical multinational GlaxoSmithKline Phils.
With Agoncillo’s image as a hands-on father, GSK tapped him to be the brand ambassador of Panadol, an over-the-counter (OTC) painkiller that doesn’t have the anti-inflammatory effect of standard aspirin.
Martija says the campaign aims to educate people on how immediate relief from pain can restore bonds with family and friends.
The new Panadol is said to provide five times faster relief than the standard painkiller, which takes effect after 20 to 30 minutes.
Dr. Joy Luat-Inciong, an anesthesiologist at St. Luke’s Hospitals, explains that Panadol’s new formulation dissolves faster and is quickly absorbed by the body.
“The difference lies in the preparation. It has an advanced disintegrating ingredient that breaks up the tablet instantly,” she says.
Paracetamol is used for mild to moderate headaches, migraine, menstrual cramps, muscle pain, aches and fever associated with colds and flu.
“It was once considered a minor drug with weak effects. Recent studies have shown that it acts on the central part of the brain to fight pain. Once ingested and absorbed into the bloodstream, it inhibits certain enzymes in the pain pathway. When the pain signal is sent from the nerves to the spinal cord and the brain, along the way, paracetamol stops the enzyme that causes the pain to be fully transmitted to the brain,” explains Dr. Inciong
In fever reduction, paracetamol influences the area of the brain that controls the body temperature.
Dr. Inciong points out that the efficacy of the medication is dependent on the right dosage. “OTC drugs in the Philippines base their recommended dosage on the average weight of a Filipino, which is 50 kilograms. That is no longer true,” she says. “Many Filipinos are heavier now. If the individual weighs 75 kg, a 500-mg tablet is an underdose. That’s why some people complain that the medicine doesn’t work for them. The box indicates that one should take one or two tablets.”
Thus, people take stronger medicines such as mefenamic acid and ibuprofen, which may have side effects.
“Paracetamol is relatively safer compared with the anti-inflammatory drugs. It’s not a gastric irritant and doesn’t interfere with bleeding tendencies. It’s also safe for pregnant women, lactating mothers and patients with heart conditions,” says Inciong.