From Medscape (a physicians' site where they often broadcast breaking news):
February 18, 2010 — At least five "serious adverse events" occurred in people who took Maalox Total Relief thinking it was Maalox antacid, the FDA warns.
The two over-the-counter drugs are not the same. Maalox Total Relief contains bismuth subsalicylate, a drug with aspirin-like side effects that include stomach and intestinal bleeding. This drug should never be used by people with a history of gastrointestinal ulcers or bleeding disorders.
Maalox Advanced Regular Strength and Maalox Advanced Maximum Strength contain antacid and anti-gas ingredients. People who are able to take regular Maalox may not be able to safely take Maalox Total Relief.
The drugs have different indications:
- Maalox Total Relief is for diarrhea, upset stomach associated with nausea, heartburn, and gas due to overeating.
- Maalox antacids are for acid indigestion, heartburn, sour stomach, upset stomach, and gas.
The drugs are not interchangeable. Yet the two products have similar labels that feature the Maalox brand name -- a name many consumers associate with the antacid.