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Popular OTC Heartburn Medications: Generic Equivalents

Updated on June 15, 2015

Most people that suffer from heartburn know all too well that the over-the-counter medications are a costly, but necessary, expense. Additionally, because many OTC medications contain a different active ingredient, it may take several purchases of different brands until you are able to locate the one that works the best and/or doesn’t give you any side effects. By purchasing the generic equivalent, consumers suffering from heartburn can greatly reduce costs.

photo: T. Young; Flickr
photo: T. Young; Flickr

Some consumers are skeptical at the thought of purchasing generic drugs simply because the generic drugs are much cheaper. As consumers, the common thought is that the higher the price, the better it works. However, concerning drugs, this is not true.

A drug company, or manufacturer, spends time and money on research and development. When a manufacturer discovers a new treatment, it applies for a patent and is granted exclusive rights to market the drug. While the patent is in existence, other drug companies are unable to market the drug, giving the manufacturer opportunity to recoup the cost of research and development. This is why, when there is no generic equivalent available, drugs can be extremely expensive, and the manufacturer has complete control over the cost of the medication and is able to charge whatever it wants.

Once the patent expires, other manufacturers are able to sell and promote the drug under the active ingredient name, or generic name, at a more reasonable cost. The original maker of the drug is often forced to lower its cost, because they don’t have control over the market. Because the brand name is more recognizable by consumers, the original manufacturer will still be able to mark-up its product and sell it at a higher price than the generic brand. Generic medications are often manufactured by all the familiar companies: Pfizer; Merck; GlaxoSmithKline; etc.

Pepcid Complete (with antacid) and Generic Equivalent

Famotidine Tablets 10 Mg For relief of heartburn - 50 Ea
Famotidine Tablets 10 Mg For relief of heartburn - 50 Ea

famotidine 10mg; generic equivalent of Pepcid 10 mg


Generic Equivalents of Popular OTC Heartburn Medications:


The active ingredient in Pepcid is an acid reducer (reduces the release of most acids into the stomach) called famotidine, the generic equivalent.

Pepcid Complete contains famotidine 10 mg and two types of antacids (neutralizes stomach acids): calcium carbonate 800 mg (Tums) and 165 mg of magnesium hydroxide (Milk of Magnesia). (See how the manufacturer had to use generic equivalents in its ingredients?)

Maximum Strength Pepcid contains 20 mg of famotidine.

Original strength Pepcid contains 10 mg of famotidine.


The active ingredient in Prilosec is an acid reducer called omeprazole, the generic equivalent. Prilosec contains 20 mg of omeprazole.


The active ingredient in Zantac is an acid reducer called ranitidine.

Zantac 75 contains 75 mg of ranitidine.  Zantac 150 contains 150 mg of ranitidine.

Tagamet HB 200/cimetidine:

The active ingredient in Tagamet is an acid reducer called cimetidine, 200mg.

Side Effects/OTC Antacids with Acid Reducers

Side Effects:

Although these drugs all contain similar side effects (dry mouth, headache, muscle aches, nausea, tongue swelling, etc.), the active ingredients are different in each brand. Because everyone is different, some people might suffer from side effects in one and not the other.

Acid Reducers and Antacid Information:

As you can see, Pepcid Complete contains both an acid reducer and antacid ingredients. If famotidine is giving you side effects, but you want to incorporate the antacid ingredients, purchase the Tums and Milk of Magnesia ingredients/products separately, noticing the dosage (Tums 800 mg and magnesuim hydroxide 165 mg). It is recommended that antacids not be taken at the same time as the acid reducers Tagamet and Prevacid, because the antacids reduce the body’s ability to absorb the the acid reducers. It is recommended, instead, to separate each by at least one hour.


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