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Buscopan v/s Mebeverine | OTC IBS Treatment


Buscopan and Mebeverine are two common drugs used for symptomatic treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Both drugs can be prescribed by a doctor or purchased over the counter from pharmacies and in case of Bucopa IBS relief from supermarkets. Buscopan vs Mebeverine lists similarities and differences between both drugs. I will review their role in the management of IBS in accordance with the treatment guidelines on Irritable Bowel Syndrome. You may find a related post also helpful – 14 best IBS medication available over the counter.

What Is IBS? (Video)

Buscopan vs Mebeverine: Mechanism Of Action And Symptoms Control

Although used in the symptomatic treatment of the same condition, Buscopan and Mebeverine are not the same drugs.

  • Buscopan is a brand name for a drug called Hyoscine Butylbromide. Over the counter, Buscopan is sold as Buscopan Cramps and Buscopan IBS Relief (same drug, different names and availability).
  • Mebeverine, on the other hand, is a generic name of the drug, which is also known as Colofac (brand name).

Both Products Contain The Same Active Ingredients Regardless Of Whether They Are Prescribed Or Purchased Over The Counter:

  • Each Buscopan tablets contains 10mg of Hyoscine Butylbromide.
  • Each Colofac or Mebeverine tablet contains 135mg of Mebeverine Hydrochloride.

Symptoms Control (Mechanism Of Action)

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) has a range of side effects including:

wome suffering from stomach pain

  • Stomach cramps,
  • Stomach pain,
  • Bloating and
  • Changes in bowel habit including diarrhoea or constipation.

Buscopan works by relieving spasms of the smooth muscle which forms part of the gastrointestinal (GI), biliary and genitourinary tracks. Smooth muscle relaxation ‘counteracts’ some of the symptoms experienced by IBS patients. Hyoscine belongs to a group of drugs called Anticholinergics.

Mebeverine exercises the same effect on the smooth muscle of the GI tract. Mebeverine belongs to a group of drugs called Antispasmodics, which relax the smooth muscle.

Antispasmodics drugs should theoretically improve the symptoms of IBS by reducing muscle contractions and spasm (Chang, 2014).

Although both drugs exhibit the same end effect, at a cellular level, their mechanism of action is different.

Quick FAQ

Does Buscopan make you sleepy?
Some people may experience dizziness, weariness, or sleepiness as a result of this medication.

Buscopan vs Mebeverine Over The Counter Availability And Age Restrictions

The table below summarises over the counter availability of both drugs and age restrictions associated with each brand. Pharmacy-only medicines can only be purchased from the pharmacy counters, including online chemist. General sale medicines (GSL) can be sold in any retail outlets, commonly sold in supermarkets (e.g. Tesco) and off the shelf from pharmacies (available for self-selection by patients)

Brand name

Colofac IBS

Buscopan Cramps

Buscopan IBS Relief

Active drug Mebeverine hydrochloride Hyoscine butylbromide Hyoscine butylbromide
Availability Pharmacy-only Pharmacy-only GSL item
Age restrictions Adults 18 years of age and over Adults and children over 6 years of age Adults and children over 12 years of age

GSL item: available from shops, supermarket and pharmacies

From the above table, it can be deduced that Mebeverine (Colofac IBS) is only available from behind the pharmacy counter.

In contrast, whereas Buscopan can be purchased both from a pharmacy counter and other shops.

Buscopan IBS Relief vs Buscopan Cramps: What Is The Difference?

Both products contain the same drug – Hyoscine Butylbromide. The only difference comes in licensing of both products, which are reflected, for example by the broader availability of Buscopan IBS Relief and more stringent age restrictions for the product.

Can You Buy Buscopan Over The Counter?

Buscopan IBS relief can be purchased off the shelf in any retail, outlets, and online (see the link below), whereas Buscopan Crams only from a pharmacy counter.

The Cheapest Treatment Option

Although both Buscopan and Mebeverine are available over the counter and sometimes recommended by a GPs to purchase, the patient may be better off if a larger quantity of the drug is prescribed.

Both drugs come in larger, prescription-only packs, which can provide for up to a month of treatment. Over the counter, hyoscine butylbromide and mebeverine will provide only for a few days of treatment only.

Patients who experience symptoms of IBS should not take over the counter Buscopan or Mebeverine ongoingly without speaking to their GP.

Which Drug Is More Commonly Prescribed In The Treatment Of IBS?


In NHS, Mebeverine is more commonly prescribed than Hyoscine Butylbromide (Buscopan) - last 12 months 1.99 mln prescriptions were issued for Mebeverine, whereas Hyoscine Butylbromide was prescribed 1.55 mln times (OpenPrescribing.net, 2020).

The above prescribing data reflect the guidelines on the management of IBS as detailed in the next paragraph.

Ongoing Treatment Of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Drug treatment can be considered on a trial basis alongside dietary and lifestyle adjustments, such as eating regular, healthy and well-balanced meals. Symptoms of diarrhoea and constipation can be managed with different drugs which are not reviewed in this post.

Healthy diet plays important role in the management of IBS symptoms

Antispasmodic drugs such as Mebeverine can be considered in the management of IBS when ongoing symptoms of abdominal pain or spasm are present.

Mebeverine is the preferred drug of choice over Antimuscarinic drugs such as Hyoscine Butylbromide (Buscopan), as it is less likely to cause side effects (BNF, 2017).

When recommending treatment, NICE looks at existing evidence from clinical trials to support prescribing decision making. Small studies suggest that antispasmodics (Mebeverine) may help with IBS symptoms such as pain and bloating.

Several studies found Hyoscine Butylbromide effective and beneficial in the abdominal pain caused by cramping, making it a valuable treatment of IBS (Tytgat, 2007).

Buscopan v/s Mebeverine: Possible Side Effects

Both drugs are generally well tolerated with no common side effects listed for either of them.

  • Uncommonly (less than 1 in 100 people) Buscopan may cause dry mouth, abnormal or reduced sweating.
  • Mebeverine can cause skin rashes (red & itchy), and less likely severe allergic reaction which is characterised by difficulty in breathing, swelling on face, tongue, or throat.

Quick FAQ

Can Mebeverine make IBS worse?
Mebeverine is generally well tolerated with no common side effects listed. Product information does not indicate that mebeverine can make IBS worse.

Can You Take Buscopan And Mebeverine Together?

Although no specific interactions between both drugs exist, generally speaking, it is not recommended to take medications which have similar mechanisms of action.

Quick FAQ

Can I take Mebeverine every day?
Mebeverine should be taken exactly as indicated on the label. If you've been given 135 mg pills, you can take one tablet three times a day.


Buscopan (Hyoscine Butylbromide) and Colofac IBS (Mebeverine Hydrochloride) are products which can be purchased over the counter for the management of IBS symptoms. Although both products have a similar effect in controlling IBS symptoms, the active ingredients found in Buscopan and Colofac are different.

In the UK, the guidelines on the management of IBS inclines towards Mebeverine as a first choice in IBS treatment; however, patients may need to trial both drugs to see if control of symptoms is improved. Patients need to remember about the importance of contacting their GP if symptoms are persistent, and the previous diagnosis of the condition was made by a doctor.