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How can I afford my GERD medications during COVID-19?

A woman has heartburn

The FDA released a statement saying the U.S. was experiencing its first drug shortage directly related to the coronavirus outbreak. It did not name the drug but said that there was a manufacturing issue with a pharmaceutical ingredient related to a site affected by coronavirus.

Affordable access to chronic disease medication is a serious gap in America’s Medicare system with dangerous implications during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Some people will be facing difficult decisions as the country faces a staggering number of lay-offs and applications for employment insurance.

For example, reflux, heartburn or GERD is a common disease. The brand name medications are expensive.  What should people do now?  

Yes, we have answers for you.

First, order affordable and safe medications from Canada. Canada offers the same drugs at cheaper prices (can be up to 80% off) because the Canadian government, which foots the bill for prescription drugs for certain sectors of the population, will not pay for a drug if a government review board believes the cost is excessive. 


Second, consider generic medication instead of brand named one. A generic drug contains the same active ingredients as its branded cousin. Generic medications can cost about 80% to 85% less than the same brand-name drug.

This article will highlight medication options for GERD and include information on generic medications which are available compared with branded products.

What is GERD?

Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, is a digestive disorder that affects the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), the ring of muscle between the esophagus and stomach. Many people, including pregnant women, suffer from heartburn or acid indigestion caused by GERD.

Doctors believe that some people suffer from GERD due to a condition called hiatal hernia. In most cases, GERD can be relieved through diet and lifestyle changes; however, some people may require medication or surgery.

What Is the Treatment for GERD?

Along with lifestyle and diet changes, your doctor may recommend over-the-counter or prescription treatments.

Which OTC Meds Treat Heartburn?

There are a variety of heartburn medicines available over the counter to ease symptoms. If these don’t help enough, talk to your doctor about what else might help — in addition to lifestyle changes. Your doctor may want to see if gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, is the cause of your symptoms.

Non-prescription medications that are used to treat heartburn include:

Antacids for Heartburn

Antacids neutralize stomach acid to cut down on heartburn, sour stomach, acid indigestion, and stomach upset. Some antacids also contain simethicone, an ingredient that helps your body get rid of gas. Some antacids contain ingredients that can cause diarrhea, such as magnesium, or constipation, such as aluminum.

Examples of antacids include:

  • Gaviscon Extra Strength Butterscotch
    • 313mg/63mg, Alginic Acid
    • Product of Canada – Manufactured by Glaxo Smith Kline
  • Gaviscon Fruit
    • 200mg/40mg, Alginic Acid
    • Product of Canada – Manufactured by Glaxo Smith Kline
  • Tums
    • 500mg, 750mg, 1000mg, Calcium (Calcium Carbonate)
    • Product of Canada – Manufactured by Glaxo Smith Kline
  • Milk of Magnesia
  • Alternagel, Amphojel
  • Gelusil, Maalox, Mylanta, Rolaids
  • Pepto-Bismol

Acid Reducers for Heartburn

There are two types of drugs that cut down on the production of acid in the stomach: histamine antagonists (H2 antagonists or H2 blockers) and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs).

Examples of H2 blockers available over the counter include:

  • Pepcid AC Maximum Strength
    • 20mg, Famotidine
    • Product of Canada – Manufactured by McNeil Consumer Healthcare

The proton-pump inhibitors esomeprazole (Nexium 24HR), lansoprazole (Prevacid 24HR), and omeprazole (Prilosec OTC) are sold over-the-counter to treat frequent heartburn (two or more times per week) for 14 days.

These types of medicines are also available as higher-strength prescriptions. Take them according to the directions on the package or as advised by your doctor.

If these medications don’t relieve your symptoms, or if your heartburn symptoms get worse or last for longer than 2 weeks, you should see your doctor.

Combination Antacid/Acid Reducer for Heartburn

Pepcid Complete combines the acid-neutralizing capability of an antacid and the acid-reducing actions of an H2 blocker. Zegerid OTC combines a proton-pump inhibitor with sodium bicarbonate.

Prescription Drugs for Heartburn and Reflux

Frequent heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) that occurs more than twice a week usually responds best to heartburn medicine that you take daily rather than just when you feel the heartburn.

Most of the over-the-counter treatments, are not meant to be taken daily for a long time. Check in with your doctor to see if you need a prescription medicine for your heartburn.

Antacids for Heartburn

  • Alka-Seltzer
    • 324mg, Bicarbonate, Citric Acid, Acetylsalicylic Acid
    • Product of Germany – Manufactured by Bayer

For chronic reflux and heartburn, the doctor may recommend medications to reduce acid in the stomach. These medicines include H2 blockers, which inhibit acid secretion in the stomach.

Histamine-2 (H2) Blockers for Heartburn and Reflux:

1 Famotidine 

Famocid

  • of the U.S. brand Pepcid
  • 20mg, Famotidine
    • Product of India – Manufactured by Sun Pharma
  • Famodin
    • Generic of the U.S. brand Pepcid
    • 20mg, 40mg, Famotidine
    • Product of Turkey – Manufactured by Sandoz
  • Famotidine
    • Generic of the U.S. brand Pepcid
    • 40mg, Famotidine

Product of United Kingdom – Manufactured by Various generic manufacturers

  • Cimetidine 
  • Cimetidine
    • Generic of the U.S. brand Tagamet
    • 200mg, 300mg, 400mg, 600mg, Cimetidine
    • Product of Canada – Manufactured by various generic manufacturers
  • Cimetidine
    • Generic of the U.S. brand Tagamet
    • 200mg, 400mg, Cimetidine
    • Product of United Kingdom – Manufactured by various generic manufacturers
  • Ranitidine 
  • Zantac
    • , Ranitidine Hydrochloride
    • Product of Canada – Manufactured by Glaxo Smith Kline
  • Ranitidine
    • Generic of the U.S. brand Zantac
    • 150mg, 300mg, Ranitidine Hydrochloride
    • Product of Canada – Manufactured by various generic manufacturers
  • Ranitidine
    • Generic of the U.S. brand Zantac
    • 150mg, 300mg, Ranitidine Hydrochloride
    • Product of United Kingdom – Manufactured by various generic manufacturers
  • Nizatidine 
  • Axid
    • Brand Product
    • 150mg, 300mg, Nizatidine
    • Product of Turkey – Manufactured by Actavis


Another type of drug, the proton pump inhibitor (or acid pump), inhibits an enzyme (a protein in the acid-producing cells of the stomach) necessary for acid secretion. 

Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) 

  1. Rabeprazole 
  2. Pariet
    1. Brand Product, known as Aciphex in the U.S
    1. 10mg, Rabeprazole Sodium
    1. Product of United Kingdom – Manufactured by Eisai
  3. Parit
    1. Brand Product, known as Aciphex in the U.S
    1. 20mg, Rabeprazole Sodium
    1. Product of India – Manufactured by Glaxo Smith Kline
  4. Rabeprazole
    1. Generic of the U.S. brand Aciphex
    1. 10mg, 20mg, Rabeprazole Sodium
    1. Product of Canada – Manufactured by various generic manufacturers
  5. Razo
    1. Generic of the U.S. brand Aciphex
    1. 10mg, Rabeprazole Sodium
    1. Product of India – Manufactured by Dr. Reddys
  6. Rabeprazole
    1. Generic of the U.S. brand Aciphex
    1. 10mg, 20mg, Rabeprazole Sodium
    1. Product of United Kingdom – Manufactured by various generic manufacturers
  7. Pepcia
    1. Generic of the U.S. brand Aciphex
    1. 20mg, Rabeprazole Sodium
    1. Product of India – Manufactured by FDC
  8. Rabeloc
    1. Generic of the U.S. brand Aciphex
    1. 20mg, Rabeprazole Sodium

Product of India – Manufactured by Cadila

  • Esomeprazole (Nexium)
  • Nexium
    • Brand Product
    • 20mg, 40mg, Esomeprazole Magnesium
    • Product of Sweden, United Kingdom – Manufactured by Astrazeneca
  • Nexium
    • Brand Product
    • 40mg, Esomeprazole Magnesium
    • Product of Canada – Manufactured by Astrazeneca
  • Neksium
    • Brand Product, known as Nexium in the U.S.
    • 20mg, Esomeprazole Magnesium
    • Product of India – Manufactured by Hetero Labs Ltd.
  • Esomeprazole
    • Generic of the U.S. brand Nexium
    • 20mg, 40mg, Esomeprazole Magnesium
    • Product of Canada – Manufactured by various generic manufacturers
  • Izra
    • Generic of the U.S. brand Nexium
    • 20mg, 40mg, Esomeprazole Magnesium
    • Product of India – Manufactured by Unichem
  • Esomeprazole
    • Generic of the U.S. brand Nexium
    • 20mg, 40mg, Esomeprazole Magnesium

Product of United Kingdom – Manufactured by various generic manufacturers

  • Lansoprazole (Prevacid)
  • Prevacid
    • Brand Product
    • 15mg, 30mg, Lansoprazole
    • Product of Canada – Manufactured by BGP Pharma Inc
  • Degastrol
    • Brand Product, known as Prevacid in the U.S.
  • Zoton FasTabs
    • Brand Product ,known as Prevacid SoluTab in the U.S.
    • 15mg, Lansoprazole
    • Product of United Kingdom – Manufactured by Wyeth Inc.
  • Lansoprazole
    • Generic of the U.S. brand Prevacid
    • 15mg, 30mg, Lansoprazole
    • Product of Canada – Manufactured by various generic manufacturers
  • Lansazol
    • Generic of the U.S. brand Prevacid
    • 30mg, Lansoprazole
    • Product of Turkey – Manufactured by Sandoz
  • Omeprazole (Prilosec, Zegerid)
  • Losec
    • Brand Product, known as Prilosec in the U.S.
    • 20mg, Omeprazole
    • Product of Canada – Manufactured by Astrazeneca
  • Omeprazole
    • Generic of the U.S. brand Prilosec
    • 10mg, 20mg, Omeprazole
    • Product of Canada – Manufactured by various generic manufacturers
  • Pantoprazole (Protonix)
  • Somac
    • Brand Product, known as Protonix in the U.S.
    • 20mg, 40mg, Pantoprazole Sodium
    • Product of Australia – Manufactured by Takeda
  • Pantoloc
    • Brand Product, known as Protonix in the U.S.
    • 20mg, 40mg, Pantoprazole Sodium
    • Product of Canada – Manufactured by Takeda
  • Pantpas
    • Brand Product, known as Protonix in the U.S.
    • 40mg, Pantoprazole Sodium
    • Product of Germany – Manufactured by Takeda Pharmaceuticals
  • Pantoprazole
    • Generic of the U.S. brand Protonix
    • 20mg, 40mg, Pantoprazole Sodium
    • Product of Canada – Manufactured by Sandoz
  • Pantosec
    • Generic of the U.S. brand Protonix
    • 40mg, Pantoprazole Sodium
    • Product of India – Manufactured by Cipla
  • Panref
    • Generic of the U.S. brand Protonix
    • 40mg, Pantoprazole Sodium
    • Product of Turkey – Manufactured by Bio Farma
  • Pantocid
    • Generic of the U.S. brand Protonix
    • 40mg, Pantoprazole Sodium
    • Product of India – Manufactured by Sun Pharma
  • Dexlansoprazole
  • Dexilant
    • Brand Product
    • 30mg, 60mg, Dexlansoprazole
    • Product of Canada – Manufactured by Takeda
  • DDR
    • Generic of the U.S. brand Dexilant
    • 30mg, 60mg, Dexlansoprazole
    • Product of India – Manufactured by MSN Lab

Promotility Agents for Heartburn and Reflux

Metoclopramide 

  • Metonia
    • Generic of the U.S. brand Reglan
    • 5mg, Metoclopramide

  • Product of Canada – Manufactured by Pendopharm

The specter of global drug shortages looms large amid the coronavirus pandemic. But so far, the supply chain is holding steady and prices are going up—in the generic drug business, at least. COVID-19 could turn out to be a profitable time for the generics industry.

If you have questions about your prescription medications or any other medication, please contact our team at CheapoMeds by calling toll free 1-800-721-7045. One of our patient representatives will be happy to assist you or transfer you to a licensed Canadian pharmacist for a free consultation.

This article contains medical information provided to help you better understand this particular medical condition or process, and may contain information about medication often used as part of a treatment plan prescribed by a doctor.  It is not intended to be used as either a diagnosis or recommendation for treatment of your particular medical situation.  If you are unwell, concerned about your physical or mental state, or are experiencing symptoms you should speak with your doctor or primary health care provider. If you are in medical distress please contact emergency services (such as 911).

Reference:

  • webmd.com
  • censalud.es
  • healthydebate.ca
  • howtotreatheartburn.com
  • fiercepharma.com

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