If you bought any Maalox recently, you should double-check the label to make sure you picked up the product you expected. The Food and Drug Administration warns some customers have mistaken Maalox Total Relief for one of the Maalox antacid products and suffered serious side effects.
The FDA is aware of five cases of serious side effects because of the confusion, but did not provide details on those side effects. Maalox has agreed to change the packaging starting in September of this year.
Here’s the problem the packaging of Maalox liquid antacid products which treats heartburn looks similar to Maalox Total Relief which is designed to treat upset stomach and diarrhea.
“The FDA is concerned about the public health impact of medication mix-ups for products that have the same names or portions of the same name, but contain different active ingredients," Carol Holquist, director of FDA’s Division of Medication Error Prevention and Analysis, said in a statement. "We want companies to consider the potential for name confusion when choosing names for their drugs."
The FDA’s main concern with consumers mistakenly selecting Maalox Total Relief is that its active ingredient (bismuth subsalicylate) is similar to aspirin and could cause side effects such as bleeding. This means it should not be taken by people with a history of gastrointestinal ulcer disease or a bleeding disorder.
This serves as a reminder of how important it is to read labels closely on any over-the-counter medicines you may take and if you have any questions ask a pharmacist before buying a medicine.
Consumer Reports has a terrific web site that provides information on all kinds of medicines and why they’re prescribed, as well as what you should know about possible side effects. You can find that here.