Nonprescription Nexium heartburn medicine launches (Update)

May 27, 2014 by Linda A. Johnson

A nonprescription version of Nexium, the most popular medicine for frequent, severe heartburn, has just gone on sale.

Drugmaker Pfizer Inc. said Tuesday that over-the-counter Nexium 24HR is available for online orders at www.Nexium24HR.com and will be in most retailers nationwide within three days.

The nonprescription version is a 20-milligram dose of "the purple pill," known chemically as esomeprazole.

Patients are to take one pill daily for up to 14 days, so it's sold in packages of 14, 28 or 42 pills, priced at about $15 to $30. Prescription Nexium, which will still be available in 20- and 40-milligram strengths, costs $260 a month or more, without insurance coverage.

New York-based Pfizer said it's planning consumer ads about the launch, which it's begun promoting at www.facebook.com/Nexium24HR . Pfizer also is offering $1-off coupons for it on the website and www.coupons.com .

In 2012, Pfizer acquired exclusive worldwide rights to nonprescription Nexium from maker AstraZeneca PLC. The British drugmaker got a payment of $250 million and will receive royalties and other payments based on the level of sales.

AstraZeneca will manufacture the nonprescription version for Pfizer and continue selling prescription Nexium, which can take one to four days for full effect. It's heavily advertised as "the purple pill that can provide 24-hour relief from persistent heartburn" caused by acid reflux disease. Unlike antacids, Nexium blocks the "pumps" that release acid into the stomach.

The Food and Drug Administration approved over-the-counter Nexium 24HR two months ago.

Last year, Nexium was the sixth-best-selling prescription drug in the world, generating revenue of $7.86 billion, up 7 percent from 2012 sales, according to health data firm IMS Health. Competition from the nonprescription version likely will reduce sales in the future.

Over the past month, Pfizer repeatedly courted AstraZeneca, offering as much as $119 billion to buy the company in what would have been the biggest pharmaceutical acquisition ever. After repeated rebuffs, Pfizer ended its pursuit Monday.

Explore further: Canadian study OKs Losec and Nexium

Related Stories

Canadian study OKs Losec and Nexium

February 27, 2008

Health Canada has completed a review of safety information for Losec (omeprazole) and Nexium (esomeprazole) and found no increased cardiovascular risks.

FDA says heartburn drugs can interfere with Plavix

November 17, 2009

(AP) -- Federal health officials said Tuesday a popular variety of heartburn medications can interfere with the blood thinner Plavix, a drug taken by millions of Americans to reduce risks of heart attack and stroke.

Pfizer, Teva reach deal to allow generic Viagra

December 17, 2013

Pfizer says it reached a settlement with Teva Pharmaceuticals that allows the generic drugmaker to launch a copycat version of its popular erectile dysfunction drug Viagra in 2017.

AstraZeneca fends off Pfizer with new growth plan

May 6, 2014

AstraZeneca on Tuesday outlined plans to make sales jump over the next decade, an effort to persuade shareholders the drug maker can do well as an independent company, rather than get bought out by rival Pfizer.

Recommended for you

Treatment options for opioid addiction are expanding

August 10, 2016

In the past two decades, the devastation associated with opioid addiction has escaped the relative confines of the inner city and extended to suburban and rural America. Due in large part to the proliferation of prescription ...

Can exercise be replaced with a pill?

October 2, 2015

Everyone knows that exercise improves health, and ongoing research continues to uncover increasingly detailed information on its benefits for metabolism, circulation, and improved functioning of organs such as the heart, ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.