In April 2020, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requested that all forms of prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) ranitidine (Zantac) be removed from the U.S. market. This recommendation was made because unacceptable levels of NDMA, a probable carcinogen (cancer-causing chemical), were found in some ranitidine products. If you’re prescribed ranitidine, talk with your doctor about safe alternative options before stopping the drug. If you’re taking OTC ranitidine, stop taking the drug and talk with your healthcare provider about alternative options. Instead of taking unused ranitidine products to a drug take-back site, dispose of them according to the product’s instructions or by following the FDA’s guidance.

Prilosec and Zantac are medications used to treat digestive problems such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). They both work by reducing the amount of acid in your stomach, but Prilosec and Zantac do so in different ways.

Prilosec and Zantac are available in prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) forms. This article covers the OTC versions. Read on to learn more about how Prilosec and Zantac are similar and different. This information can help you decide which drug may be a better choice for you.

Prilosec is a brand name for the generic drug omeprazole. It works by blocking the pumps in your stomach that produce acid. Zantac is a brand name for a different generic drug, ranitidine. Zantac blocks a chemical in your body called histamine that activates the acid pumps.

Prilosec and Zantac come in tablet, capsule, and liquid forms that you take by mouth. For either drug, the typical length of treatment is two to eight weeks, depending on what you’re treating. These drugs are used to treat similar conditions, including:

In addition, Prilosec can also treat H. pylori infection and Barrett’s esophagus.

OTC Prilosec and Zantac can be used in infants who are one month or older if prescribed by a doctor. That said, self-treatment with Prilosec is not recommended in children who are younger than 18 years. And for Zantac, self-treatment is not recommended in children younger than 12 years. These drugs should only be used in children of these ages if recommended or prescribed by a doctor.

Both medications are available in generic forms. The generic versions tend to be cheaper than the brand-name versions. For information on current prices for Prilosec and Zantac, visit GoodRx.com.

Like most medications, Prilosec and Zantac can cause side effects. Their more common side effects are similar and can include:

  • headache
  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • stomach pain
  • gas
  • dizziness
  • drowsiness

However, these medications can cause different serious side effects. This may be because they work in unique ways in your body.

Serious side effects of Prilosec can include:

  • liver problems
  • upper respiratory infections, with symptoms such as congestion, sore throat, or cough
  • Clostridium difficile infection, with symptoms such as severe diarrhea
  • bone fractures

Serious side effects of Zantac can include:

Although these drugs treat the same problems, they’re different in how they work and how they’re broken down in your body. As a result, they can interact with different drugs. The chart below lists examples of drugs that may interact with Prilosec or Zantac.

Prilosec Zantac
St. John’s wort

Your overall health is a factor when deciding if a drug is a good choice for you. You should always consider any health conditions you have.

Use with other medical conditions

While both Prilosec and Zantac are relatively safe, they may cause problems if you have certain health conditions.

Talk to your doctor before using Prilosec if you have:

Talk to your doctor before using Zantac if you have:

Use during pregnancy and breastfeeding

Both Prilosec and Zantac are likely safe to use during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. However, you should always talk to your doctor before using any drugs while pregnant or breastfeeding.

Prilosec and Zantac are similar in many ways. However, some of their key differences may include:

  • the serious side effects they may cause
  • the drugs they may interact with
  • the medical conditions they may cause problems with

If you’d like to know more about Prilosec or Zantac, talk to your doctor. They can answer any questions you may have and help you decide if one of these drugs is a good choice for you.