Gaviscon range of products is probably the most known brand of antacids in the UK. There are, however, several alternative products and drugs which can be used to help with symptoms of heartburn and indigestion. Today I will review 16 best Gaviscon alternative products and medicines. I will briefly discuss what Gaviscon is to get a better understanding of alternative treatments. I will also talk about:
- Gaviscon and other antacids mechanism of action
- Gaviscon alternative products: antacids (liquid and chewable forms)
- Gaviscon alternative products: proton pump inhibitors (PPIs)
- Gaviscon alternative drugs: h2-receptor antagonists
How Gaviscon and alternative antacids work?
Gaviscon is a brand of products, commonly referred to as ‘antacids’ used in the management of acid reflux, also known as heartburn and indigestion. Heartburn happens when acid escapes from the stomach back to the oesophagus (a long tube that connects the mouth and stomach), causing the following symptoms commonly:
- Burning sensation in the lower or middle chest area
- An unpleasant burning and irritation at the back of the throat
Symptoms of the heartburn are usually present after a meal and may get worse when lying down.
Ongoing symptoms of heartburn have an umbrella term of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).
Antacids neutralise stomach acid and therefore help with symptoms caused by the excess of acid. Additionally, antacids may contain alginates (sodium alginate), which form a ‘raft’ preventing acid from leaving the stomach. Antacids usually contain sodium bicarbonate or potassium bicarbonate as an active ingredient.
Differences between Gaviscon products
Gaviscon range of products include:
- Gaviscon Original
- Gaviscon Advance
- Gaviscon Double Action
The table below shows the differences between main Gaviscon products focusing mainly on the main active ingredients present in the formulation of each product.
|Range||Active ingredients||Forms available|
|Gaviscon Original||Calcium carbonate, sodium alginate, sodium bicarbonate||Oral suspension, chewable tablets|
|Gaviscon Advance||Potassium bicarbonate, sodium alginate||Oral suspension, chewable tablets,|
|Gaviscon Double Action||Calcium carbonate, sodium alginate, sodium bicarbonate||Oral suspension, liquid sachets, chewable tablets|
It can be concluded from the above table that Gaviscon range of products contains a combination of:
- Sodium alginate: forms a protective layer in the gut. In the presence of sodium bicarbonate, sodium alginate creates a ‘raft’ which is present on the top of the stomach content, preventing acid reflux.
- Sodium bicarbonate: used as an antacid to neutralise stomach acid.
- Calcium carbonate: used as an antacid to neutralise stomach acid.
Gaviscon Advance vs Gaviscon Double action vs Gaviscon Original, what is the difference?
Gaviscon Advance contains more of sodium alginate than Gaviscon Original making it ‘stronger antacid’.
Gaviscon Double Action contains sodium alginate and additionally two other antacids, as compared to Gaviscon Advance, which contains sodium alginate and potassium bicarbonate. Gaviscon Double Action contains a double amount of sodium alginate as compared to Gaviscon Original.
Gaviscon alternative products: antacids
Products, which are alternative to Gaviscon, contain a combination one or more of the same ingredients.
Gaviscon alternative Liquid Antacid
1. Peptac as Gaviscon alternative
Peptac is one of the best priced liquid antacid products which can be used for symptoms of heartburn and indigestion. Peptac comes in 500ml bottles in two flavours:
- Peptac Peppermint liquid
- Peptac Aniseed liquid
Peptac contains the following active ingredients:
- Sodium Bicarbonate
- Sodium Alginate
- Calcium Carbonate
This combination of active ingredients is the same as one found in Gaviscon Original and Gaviscon Advance.
Peptac can be bought from most high street pharmacies, although it is usually kept as part of dispensing stock rather than a product which is shown for sale. When priced right, Peptac can be purchased for around £4, making it one of the best priced liquid antacids on the market.
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Other products which are the same as Peptac and produced by the same manufacturer, but marketed by different companies include:
- Acidex Oral Suspension
- Tesco Heartburn & Indigestion relief
- Boots Heartburn Relief Peppermint Flavour
- LloydsPharmacy Heartburn and Indigestion Liquid
- Rennie Liquid Heartburn Relief Oral Suspension
- LloydsPharmacy Heartburn and Indigestion Liquid
2. Milk of Magnesia
Milk of Magnesia (Phillips) is a popular product, which can be used as an antacid to manage the symptoms of heartburn and indigestion. Additionally, Milk of Magnesia is used to help with stomach discomfort, flatulence (gas) and as a laxative to help with constipation.
Milk of Magnesia does not contain the same active ingredient(s) as Gaviscon; however magnesium hydroxide has similar (almost equal) effectiveness to neutralise stomach acid as sodium bicarbonate (eMC, 2020), which is one of the ingredients in Gaviscon range.
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Maalox contains aluminium hydroxide and magnesium hydroxide; both used to help with heartburn and indigestion. The main active ingredients are different from active ingredients found in the Gaviscon range. Maalox is not commonly dispensed in high street pharmacies or sold as part of regular stock. Some pharmacies may agree to order Maalox from pharmaceutical wholesalers on an individual basis for the same or next day delivery. Alternatively, Maalox can be purchased online, for example, Amazo.co.uk (see link below).
4. Maalox Plus as Gaviscon alternative
Similarly to Maalox, Maalox Plus contains aluminium hydroxide and magnesium hydroxide which act as antacids to neutralise stomach acid. Maalox Plus contains a third active ingredient – simeticone. Simeticone is an antiflatulent/antifoaming agent, which is used to help with bloating and discomfort caused by trapped wind. Patients who experience symptoms of heartburn and bloating (trapped wind) may find this alternative product even more effective than Gaviscon range of products.
Maalox Plus is not usually kept as a part of regular over the counter stock. It is possible to make a request to order Maalox Plus in a high street pharmacy, as Maalox Plus is stocked by main UK pharmaceutical wholesalers. Alternatively, see link below to get Maalox Plus from Amazon.co.uk
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Gaviscon alternative products: Chewable tablets
Although more convenient than liquid preparations, chewable antacid tablets work slower and are less effective in neutralising stomach acid (iffgd, 2019). Neferthen lees patient may get sufficient response from chewable forms of antacids. Two most popular brands of chewable antacid alternative to Gaviscon range, are Rennie range of antacid tablets and Tums.
Rennie range of antacid tablets contains calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate. Although the combination of active ingredients is not the same as with Gaviscon range of liquid antacid and tablets, Rennies contain commonly used antacid compound and will help with symptoms of indigestion and heartburn.
Rennies are commonly available over the counter in supermarkets and pharmacies.
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Tums are standing out from the crown of antacid products with the range of unique flavours for their variety including assorted fruit and assorted berries flavours with advertised ‘delicious taste’. Tums contain calcium carbonate as an active ingredient.
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Bisodol brand of antacid tablets is part of Rannie range. Bisodol chewable tablets contain three active ingredients: Calcium Carbonate, Magnesium Carbonate and Simeticone. In addition to management of heartburn and indigestion Bisodol chewable tables help to manage trapped wind, thanks to simeticone, which is included in the formulation.
ENO offers an alternative form of antacid medication not only to Gaviscon, but also other heartburn drugs. ENO comes in the form of powers which are mix with water and consumed. ENO contains sodium carbonate, sodium bicarbonate and citric acid, which can be used in the relief of heartburn and indigestion. [amazon link=”B00DS79ATO” title=”ENO powders can be bought online” link_icon=”amazon” /], high street pharmacies do not stock this product.
Gaviscon alternative products: proton pump inhibitors (PPIs)
Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are the most effective drugs in the management of heartburn/indigestion. PPIs work in a completely different way to antacids such as Gaviscon. PPIs stop the production of stomach acid (rather than neutralising it), making them superior to Gaviscon and other antacid products. When used for uncomplicated heartburn, all PPIs control symptoms of with a single dose. Symptom control is usually long-lasting (for up to 24 hrs), as opposed to antacid, which needs to be used few times a day.
PPIs are available over the counter, and on prescription with the latter option giving a wider choice of PPIs in the management of heartburn and indigestion. Over the counter PPIs include the following drugs:
Facts to consider before using PPIs
Delayed onset of action
The general advice for PPIs is that it can take 2-3 days to see full symptom control, although most patients should see benefits of treatment within one hour of taking a PPI.
All PPIs available without a prescription over the counter are restricted to adults aged 18 and over. When prescribed, PPIs can be used by the younger population.
PPIs interact with several drugs. Check product information leaflet for more details or speak to the pharmacist before the use.
Use of proton pump inhibitors is associated with more common side effects as compared to antacids such as Gaviscon. Common side effects may include:
- Abdominal pain
Limit on the duration of treatment
Patients who do not achieve relief of symptoms within two weeks of starting the treatment should see advice from their GP. Over the counter proton pump inhibitors are used for short-term treatment of heartburn and indigestion.
9. Nexium Control as Gaviscon alternative
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Over the counter Esomeprazole is mostly known under the brand name of Nexium Control. Nexium control can be purchased in a variety of places including, supermarkets, shops, pharmacies and online stores and chemists.
Nexium Control comes in the form of capsules and tablets, each containing 20mg of Esomeprazole. A single dose of Nexium Control provides relief of symptoms for up to 24 hours.
10. Guardium Acid Reflux Control
Guardium acid reflux control is the latest addition to proton pump inhibitors available over the counter without a prescription. Guardium acid reflux gastro-resistant tablets contain 20mg of Esomeprazole. Guardium Acid Reflux Control is produced by the makers of Gaviscon.
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11. Esomeprazole (Galpharm)
Esomeprazole 20mg Capsules (Galpharm) are available in Tesco, including Tesco’s online groceries. Galpharm Esomeprazole capsules are priced very competitively. A pack of 14 esomeprazole capsules cost £10, whereas a pack of 7 just £5.90 (prices taken August 2020).
Gaviscon alternative: Omeprazole
12. Omeprazole 10mg tablets (Boots)
Boots Pharmacy sells omeprazole 10mg tablets. Acid Reflux 10 mg Gastro-Resistant Tablets can be purchased in-store and online at Boots.com. A pack of 14 tablets cost £9.99 (prices taken August 2020).
13. Pyrocalm Control
Pyrocalm Control is the newest PPI containing omeprazole. Each Pyrocalm Control tablet contains 20mg of omeprazole. Pyrocalm Control is mainly available from online pharmacies, for example, Lloyds Pharmacy. Pack of 14 tablet costs £10.99 (prices taken August 2020).
14. Pantoloc Control (Pantoprazole)
Pantoloc Control is the only proton pump inhibitor which contains pantoprazole. Each Pantoloc Control tablet contains 20mg of pantoprazole.
Pantoloc Control is not readily available with most online pharmacies being out of stock. The best option of getting Pantoloc Control is to ask a pharmacy team if this item is available for ordering from drug wholesalers.
Gaviscon alternative products: H2-receptor antagonists
H2-receptor antagonist such as ranitidine as effective in reducing stomach acid and controlling the symptoms of indigestion. The only H2-receptor antagonist which was available over the counter was ranitidine 75mg tablets, also sold under the brand name Zantac 75 Relief. All ranitidine products (over the counter and prescription-only) have been recalled due to safety concerns. Ranitidine is currently undergoing investigation by Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) into its safety. Ranitidine will not be available for sale in the UK is a foreseeable future. There is plenty of alternatives to ranitidine; some options were discussed in this post.
None of any other H2-receptor antagonists is available without a prescription in the UK.
16. Prescription options for H2-receptor antagonist
Prescription-only options forH2-receptor antagonist include:
All the above drugs are intermediately out of stock due to increased demand caused by lack of ranitidine on the market.
Patients have a great choice of Gaviscon alternative medicines. There is a wide selection of alternative antacid products which come in the form of liquids and tablets. Peptac liquid (available also under different brand names, see post for more details) resembles the closest alternative to Gaviscon as it contains a combination of the same active ingredients. Patients who suffer from indigestion/heartburn may, however, benefit from the use of any antacids discussed in this post.
Proton pump inhibitors are the most effective in the management of heartburn and indigestion symptoms. PPIs became readily available to patients with most supermarkets, pharmacies and online vendors selling one or more drugs in this category. PPIs should only be used as a short term treatment of acid reflux.
Patients who experience symptoms of heartburn/indigestion ongoingly or patients who fail to respond to treatment should contact their GP for advice. When prescribed, PPIs can be used ongoingly, under the care of a GP.
Gaviscon alternative medicines: FAQ
Is there a cheaper alternative to Gaviscon?
Peptac liquid antacid contains the same active ingredients as Gaviscon Original and Gaviscon Advance. Peptac is cheaper than Gaviscon. When bought in high street pharmacies a bottle of Peptac (500ml) costs around £4.
What is Peptac liquid peppermint?
Peptac liquid peppermint is a liquid antacid used in the management of heartburn and indigestion. Peptac contains sodium bicarbonate, sodium alginate and calcium carbonate which neutralise stomach acid.
Is Peptac good for acid reflux?
Peptac contains three active ingredients: sodium bicarbonate, sodium alginate and calcium carbonate which neutralise stomach acid making Peptac a good choice in symptomatic relief of acid reflux.
eMC (2020). SmPC: Phillips’ Milk of Magnesia. Available at: https://www.medicines.org.uk/emc/product/173 Accessed on 13/08/2020
iffgd (2019). Antacids. Available at: https://www.iffgd.org/diet-treatments/antacids.html Accessed on 12/08/2020