Local News

Over-The-Counter Prilosec Can Be More Expensive For Parents

Posted November 20, 2003

— Some parents were upset when the popular heartburn drug, Prilosec, was not sold as prescription medicine anymore. The new form is not for kids, even though it is often prescribed for childhood reflux, but there are some alternatives parents may want to give a try.

Debra Buck's twins, Rachel and Brian, have acid reflux and they used to take Prilosec.

"I'd open up a capsule and sprinkle it on some applesauce," Buck said.

With insurance, Buck paid a $25 monthly co-pay for each child. Then, Prilosec became an over-the-counter drug not recommended for young children. To get the old version, she would have to pay $115 a month per child.

"It's very frustrating," he said. "For $230 a month, I could put them on the same drug they were on before for $50. It's totally outrageous."

Dr. Steven Lichtman, a gastroenterologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who treats children with reflux, said many parents are having trouble getting insurance to cover Prilosec. Other options are out there, including Nexium and Prevacid.

"If the insurance company says we can't give them Prilosec, then we will frequently switch them to other medicines," he said.

Rachel and Brian are now on Prevacid, but with a $40 co-pay, Debra's wallet still takes a hit. Buck only hopes her insurance company will not deny coverage on that drug before her kids outgrow their reflux.

"So now, it's $80 a month versus $50 a month," she said.

Most kids do outgrow reflux by their second birthday. There are liquid forms of many reflux drugs, but some parents said it is tough to get their kids to swallow it.

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