Traditional Maalox contain aluminum hydroxide and magnesium hydroxide to neutralize acid in the stomach. Maalox Total Relief, however is not simply an antacid, but an upset stomach and anti-diarrhea medicine that contains bismuth subsalicylate which is similar to aspirin and has been known to cause stomach bleeding in some individuals. The product should not be used by people with a history of gastrointestinal ulcer disorder or a bleeding disorder. The mix-up of the two products has so far caused five cases of adverse reactions. Although the FDA has not specified what those reactions were.
The manufacturer of both drugs, Novartis Consumer Health Inc., will halt sales of the products under similar name and packaging. In the future, the Maalox Total Relief product will no longer be sold with the word "Maalox" on the box and the company has agreed to alter the packaging.