First generic form of heartburn drug Nexium approved

Pills and capsules from Shutterstock.
Pills and capsules from Shutterstock.
Nenov Brothers Images
The first generic version of the heartburn drug Nexium (esomeprazole) has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The drug helps treat GORD, which stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease. GORD occurs when stomach acid backs into the esophagus, and is commonly known as chronic heartburn or acid reflux.

License to produce generic esomeprazole in 20 milligram and 40 milligram capsules was granted to Ivax Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of the Israeli firm Teva Pharmaceuticals, the FDA said in a news release. Esomeprazole is a proton pump inhibitor that reduces the amount of acid in the stomach.

The capsules are also approved to reduce the risk of stomach ulcers associated with use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs, such as aspirin, naproxen and ibuprofen) as well as treat the stomach infection Helicobacter pylori, along with certain antibiotics, and to treat conditions where the stomach makes too much acid, according to the FDA.

"Health care professionals and consumers can be assured that these FDA-approved generic drugs have met our rigorous standards," Dr. Kathleen Uhl, director of the Office of Generic Drugs in the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in an agency news release.

"It is important for patients to have access to treatment options for chronic conditions," she added.

The most serious risks when taking esomeprazole are stomach problems, including severe diarrhea. Also, people who take proton pump inhibitors for long periods of time are at increased risk for bone fractures, the FDA said.

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