Naproxen belongs to the class of drugs known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, commonly referred to as NSAIDs. Other commonly used NSAIDs are aspirin and ibuprofen. Though related, each of these drugs has a different effect on the body. Naproxen tablets come in a wide range of strengths and are produced under several different brand names, most of which require a prescription.
Naproxen is used to treat inflammation and mild to moderate levels of pain. As with other NSAIDs, it is generally recommended that people use the smallest amount of naproxen that provides pain relief. Side effects of naproxen can include internal bleeding, ulcers, perforation of the stomach or intestinal lining, and in increased risk of heart attacks and stroke. Despite the long list of possible side effects, in clinical studies naproxen was found to have fewer side effects than aspirin.
EC-Naprosyn are pills are available by prescription only. The EC part of the name stands for enteric coating, a special coating that protects the stomach by preventing the tablets from being absorbed too soon. They are available in 375 and 500 mg strengths. Naprosyn tablets are the same product, but without the enteric coating. These tablets come in 250, 375, and 500 mg strengths and also require a prescription.
Anaprox tablets are available by prescription only. They are available in 275 and 550 mg strengths. Naprelan, available in 375 and 500 mg tablets, is a controlled-release formulation of naproxen. These tablets are designed to release the medication over a period of time, increasing the overall effectiveness of the medicine and decreasing how often it must be taken.
Naproxen is available over-the-counter under the brand name Aleve. This formulation is similar to the prescription versions of naproxen tablets, but the strength is less, at only 220 mg. These tablets are available in pharmacies, discount stores and any other places where non-prescription pain medication is sold. The potential side effects of over-the-counter naproxen are the same as those listed for the prescription-strength formulas, but appear to occur less often due to the lower dosage of the NSAID medication.
Naproxen tablets are also sold in generic form. They are marketed under various names used by stores for their product lines, such as Equate and Kroger. These are the same strength as Aleve, 220 mg. Naproxen is also sold online, often touted as equivalent to Anaprox or Naprosyn. Buying medications from unknown sources is extremely risky, as lack of quality control can be a serious problem with this type of naproxen tablets.