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Prilosec will go over-the-counter

I have read that Prilosec will be going over-the-counter in the fall. Is this true, and if so, when is the expected date? Will it be prescription strength or a reduced version? Also, what about cost? Is there a generic available?

For years, Prilosec was the most popular prescription drug for heartburn and acid reflux. The Food and Drug Administration has now approved Prilosec for over-the-counter sale at a dose of 20 milligrams. This is one of the doses available by prescription. Doctors can prescribe pills of either 10, 20 or 40 milligrams.

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Prilosec is expected to become available toward the end of September. The cost is expected to be around $30 for 42 tablets. That is substantially less than the prescription price of around $4 per pill.

Generic omeprazole is currently only available by prescription. It is almost as expensive as the brand name Prilosec, but for those with insurance, the co-pay might be less than the over-the-counter price.

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I heard that carbonated drinks rob the bones of calcium. Is that really true? If so, should I be avoiding beverages such as seltzer water or any carbonated water?

Nutritionists used to warn that the phosphate in soft drinks would have a negative impact on calcium balance. But according to osteoporosis authority Dr. Robert Heaney, there is no evidence for this. If carbonated drinks are harmful for bones, it might be that women and children are drinking them instead of calcium-rich milk.

We don't see any reason to avoid carbonated water or seltzer. To maintain good bone strength, though, make sure to get adequate calcium, magnesium and vitamin D along with plenty of weight-bearing exercise such as walking, jogging or tennis.

I hate creamy sunscreens. They make me feel slimy. Can you suggest any that won't make me feel like a greased pig?

You might look for a gel-type sunscreen. They have an alcohol base that doesn't feel slippery once it dries. Brands include Banana Boat Active Sport, Bull Frog Quik Gel, Coppertone Gel and Vivant Clear Gel.

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 888 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10019, or e-mail them via their Web site, www.peoplespharmacy. org.


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