What is Prilosec?
Prilosec is a brand name drug, distributed by Procter & Gamble, which contains the active ingredient omeprazole. Prescription omeprazole products are used to treat Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), dyspepsia, gastric and duodenal ulcers, and other similar conditions involving overproduction of stomach acid. Prescription Prilosec (Prilosec Rx) has been approved for these uses by the FDA since 1989. More recently, in June of 2003, the FDA also approved an over the counter strength version of Prilosec (Prilosec OTC), to treat recurrent heartburn (experienced two or more times a week).
How does Prilosec work?
Prilosec Rx and Prilosec OTC both function through the same active ingredient, omeprazole. This drug works to counter the action of certain stomach cells called "proton pumps," which normally pump acid into the stomach to aid the digestive process. When these cells are producing too much acid, conditions such as GERD, dyspepsia, ulcers or heartburn can be the result. Prilosec binds to specific segments of the proton pump, thereby impeding its normal action - thus it is termed a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) drug.
Multiple studies have verified the efficacy of both Prilosec Rx and Prilosec OTC. For example, one multi-nation 2003 European study found that 75% of patients with moderate to severe GERD were successfully healed after a four week course of omeprazole (Prilosec Rx). (Korner et al, 2003) Similarly, Prilosec OTC has proven its efficacy in treating heartburn: studies have shown that three months after completing one standard course of Prilosec (one 20mg tablet per day, for 14 days), approximately 43% of individuals report no further incidence of heartburn. (Fendrick et al, 2004).
Warnings and precautions when using Prilosec
Prilosec should not be used by people allergic to or hypersensitive to any of the drugs components. Patients with stomach cancer may have relief of symptoms while using Prilosec. Women who are or may become pregnant, and women who are breastfeeding should consult their physician before using Prilosec. Prilosec may interact with other medications including phenytoin (used to treat seizures), warfarin (an anticoagulant/blood thinner), and diazepam (a sedative).
Although side effects are uncommon, the following conditions have been associated with use of Prilosec: Headache; Diarrhea; Constipation; Upset stomach; Vomiting; Stomach pain; Coughing; Cold symptoms; Dizziness; Mild rash; and Severe skin rash with Swelling and Peeling.
Who should use Prilosec?
Individuals suffering from heartburn two or more days per week may benefit from Prilosec OTC, while those suffering from GERD, gastric or duodenal ulcers, dyspepsia or other similar conditions may be prescribed Prilosec by their physician.
Frequently Asked Questions about Prilosec
How much Prilosec should I take?
Prilosec Rx programs may vary in dose strength and frequency depending on the type and severity of condition. Such prescriptions often involve 40 or 60 mg tablets for periods of four to eight weeks, or longer, as prescribed by your doctor.
Prilosec OTC is administered in 20 mg tablets that should be taken once a day, for a period of 14 days. If conditions persist, a doctor should be consulted.
How should I take Prilosec?
Prilosec capsules should be taken before a meal, preferably in the morning. Prilosec tablets may be taken with food or on an empty stomach.
Will I get heartburn during the weeks I'm taking Prilosec?
As a delayed-action medication, it may take time for the full effects of Prilosec to occur. Therefore, some patients may still experience symptoms of heartburn during the first day or two of treatment. During this period, antacids may be taken to treat acid indigestion. Additionally, variability between individuals may dictate the effectiveness of Prilosec.