The drugs are not interchangeable but apparently many people have thought they are.
At least five serious events have been reported among people who took Maalox Total Relief, according to the Food and Drug Administration. The users thought they were taking Maalox, the antacid.
The FDA issued a warning Wednesday and has urged Maalox-maker, Novartis, to change the label.
Although both formulations are liquid medications available without a prescription over-the-counter, the differences are substantial.
Total Relief contains an aspirin-like drug with side effects that can include intestinal and stomach bleeding. People who have a history of gastrointestinal ulcers or bleeding ulcers should never take it, reports Web MD.
Total Relief is recommended for diarrhea, gas from overeating, heartburn and nausea from an upset stomach. It should not be taken by children and teens recovering from a virus, and should not be taken by those on blood thinners such as warfarin and Plavix.
The other Maalox, Advanced Regular Strength and Advanced Maximum Strength, contains antacid as well as anti-gas ingredients. It is recommended for acid indigestion, sour stomach, an upset stomach and gas, as well as heartburn.
Novartis makes Maalox. In September it will change the label on Maalox Total Relief, dropping the name Maalox. Until then, Novartis says it will warn health professionals about the difference.
The FDA warning says that consumers should check with their pharmacist for more information on which formulation is right for them. #