Popular heartburn drug Nexium now non-prescription

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INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- One of the most popular prescription medicines of all time, Nexium, just became available without a prescription. But doctors say you may be better off with what is next to Nexium on store shelves.

A specialist says masterful marketing has led people to believe that the purple pill is premier in its class of drugs, the proton pump inhibitors.

"And the truth is it's not. It's just advertising that's done very well, and they've done a very good job with it," said Dr. Rishi Grewal of Consultants in Gastroenterology.

He said other drugs in that class are just as effective in reducing heartburn symptoms, and they're generally cheaper.

"Same comparable medicine such as omeprazole, Prevacid, Prilosec, one of these is equally good for a much better price," said Dr. Grewal.

FOX 4 found 42 pills of omeprazole, a generic, for $16.97 compared to $24.98 for the same number of Nexium.

Another thing to consider is the dosage. Nexium will be available over the counter only in 22 milligrams. Many people need 40 milligrams. Janet McKee said she'd have to take two pills a day instead of one if she switches from her prescription medicine to over-the-counter Nexium.

"So most likely due to convenience and cost, I would probably stick with what I'm on," said McKee.

Dr. Grewal said look for the best price among the heartburn meds.

"That'll make your heartburn get better by itself," he said with a smile.

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