The packages say Maalox Advanced and Maalox Total Relief, and consumers might justifiably think that they're simply two versions of the same product. They're not, and mixups have resulted in at least five reports of serious adverse reactions, the Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday.
Maalox Advanced Regular Strength and Maalox Advanced Maximum Strength are antacids containing aluminum hydroxide and magnesium hydroxide. Maalox Total Relief is an upset-stomach reliever and anti-diarrhea medicine; its principal ingredient is bismuth subsalicylate, which is related to aspirin.
Like aspirin, it can cause stomach bleeding. It should not be used by people with a history of gastrointestinal ulcer disease or a bleeding disorder, nor by children or teens recovering from a viral infection. It is also not for patients taking oral anti-diabetic drugs, blood-thinning drugs and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.