Choosing the wrong liquid Maalox product for your condition can have harmful consequences, warns the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Consumers may be confused by the similar packaging and labeling of liquid Maalox and Maalox Total Relief. Both products are available without a prescription (over-the-counter) and feature the Maalox name, but they contain different ingredients for the relief of different symptoms.
Whether it’s because of the flu or seasonal allergies, diabetes or epilepsy, pregnant women must often take prescription medication—usually while worrying about the potential impact on their developing babies.
With studies showing the average woman takes from three to five medications while pregnant, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) encourages drug makers and moms-to-be to participate in pregnancy registry studies that track the risks from drugs taken during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
Maalox (Advanced Regular Strength and Advanced Maximum Strength) contains the active ingredients aluminum hydroxide, magnesium hydroxide, and simethicone for the relief of acid indigestion, heartburn, sour stomach, upset stomach, and pressure and bloating (gas).
Maalox Total Relief (Maximum Strength) has only one active ingredient—bismuth subsalicylate—for the relief of diarrhea, upset stomach associated with nausea, heartburn, and gas due to overeating.
“Maalox Total Relief and Maalox are not interchangeable and shouldn’t be used in place of each other,” says Carol Holquist, R.Ph., director of FDA’s Division of Medication Error Prevention and Analysis.
Serious Side Effects
FDA has received five reports of serious medication errors in consumers who used Maalox Total Relief by mistake when they had intended to use one of the Maalox liquid antacid products.
Maalox Total Relief is not appropriate for individuals who want to use an antacid, especially if they have a history of ulcers in the stomach or intestine (gastrointestinal ulcer disease) or a bleeding disorder. The bismuth subsalicylate in Maalox Total Relief is chemically related to aspirin and can cause similar side effects, such as bleeding, in some people.
Due to the potential for serious side effects from product confusion, the maker of Maalox brand products has agreed to
change the name of Maalox Total Relief to one that will not include the name “Maalox” and revise the graphics and information displayed on the front of the product to help distinguish the active ingredients and uses of this product from the Maalox antacids. The company expects to begin selling the renamed product in September 2010.
carry out an educational program that includes outreach to health care professionals and consumers to inform them about the different products sold under the Maalox brand, including how to select the appropriate Maalox brand product
monitor the safety of Maalox brand products and report side effects related to their use