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Ranitidine vs Omeprazole: Main Differences and Similarities

Major pharmacies pulled ranitidine from shelves. Read more about the recall here.

Ranitidine and omeprazole are two medications used to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) among other digestive conditions. While they both treat can treat similar problems, they work in different ways. Ranitidine reduces stomach acid production by blocking histamine, a molecule that is needed for acid pumps. Omeprazole, on the other hand, works by directly inhibiting these acid pumps in the stomach. Both medications have several similarities and differences which will be discussed further.

Ranitidine

Ranitidine is the generic or chemical name for Zantac. It is a histamine H2 antagonist that is indicated to treat duodenal ulcers, gastric ulcers, erosive esophagitis, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and hypersecretory conditions such as Zollinger-Ellison syndrome. Antisecretory effects occur within 4 hours with symptomatic relief felt within 24 hours after administration.

Ranitidine comes in 75 mg, 150 mg, or 300 mg oral tablets and 150 mg or 300 mg oral capsules. It is also available as a 15 mg/1 mL oral solution and syrup as well as an injectable 25 mg/1 mL solution. A brand name oral powder for suspension can also be administered. Ranitidine is usually dosed once or twice daily although dosing can be up to 4 times per day. Dosage adjustments may be needed in those with liver or kidney impairment.

Omeprazole

Omeprazole (What is Omeprazole?) is the generic name for Prilosec. It is classified as a proton pump inhibitor that blocks acid pumps in the stomach to reduce acid secretion. Like ranitidine, it is indicated to treat duodenal ulcers, hypersecretory conditions, gastric ulcers, erosive esophagitis, and GERD. Additionally, it can also treat H. pylori infection and Barrett’s esophagus.

Omeprazole is extensively metabolized in the liver with antisecretory effects occurring within 1 hour after administration and total effects lasting up to 72 hours.

Omeprazole is available as a 20 mg delayed-release oral tablet as well as a 10 mg, 20 mg, or 40 mg delayed-release oral capsule. A 2 mg/1 mL oral powder for suspension is also available. Omeprazole can be dosed once or twice daily from 2 to 8 weeks or even longer depending on the condition being treated. Doses need to be reduced in individuals with kidney impairment.

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Ranitidine vs Omeprazole Side by Side Comparison

Ranitidine and omeprazole are two treatment options for digestive conditions. Their similarities and differences can be found in the comparison table below.

Ranitidine Omeprazole
Prescribed For
  • Duodenal ulcers
  • Erosive esophagitis
  • Gastric ulcers
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Gastric hypersecretion
  • Zollinger-Ellison syndrome
  • Duodenal ulcers
  • Erosive esophagitis
  • Gastric ulcers
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Gastric hypersecretion
  • Zollinger-Ellison syndrome
  • H. pylori infection
  • Barrett’s esophagus
Drug Classification
  • Histamine (H2) Blocker
  • Proton Pump Inhibitor
Manufacturer
  • Generic
  • Generic
Common Side Effects
  • Headache
  • Constipation
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Flatulence
  • Rash
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Constipation
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Flatulence
  • Rash
  • Fever
Is there a generic?
  • Ranitidine is the generic name
Is it covered by insurance?
  • Varies according to your provider
  • Varies according to your provider
Dosage Forms
  • Oral tablet
  • Oral capsule
  • Oral powder for suspension
  • Oral solution
  • Oral syrup
  • Injection solution
  • Oral tablet, delayed release
  • Oral capsule, delayed release
  • Oral powder for suspension
Average Cash Price
  • $390 per 60 tablets (150 mg)
  • $54 (per 30 tablets)
SingleCare Discount Price
  • Ranitidine price
Drug Interactions
  • Procainamide
  • Warfarin
  • Atazanavir
  • Delavirdine
  • Gefitinib
  • Erlotinib
  • Glipizide
  • Ketoconazole
  • Itraconazole
  • Midazolam
  • Triazolam
  • Rilpivirine
  • Warfarin
  • Atazanavir
  • Methotrexate
  • Clopidogrel
  • Erlotinib
  • Citalopram
  • Ketoconazole
  • Cilostazol
  • Phenytoin
  • Diazepam
  • Digoxin
  • Iron salts
  • Clarithromycin
  • Tacrolimus
Can I use while planning pregnancy, pregnant, or breastfeeding?
  • Ranitidine is in Pregnancy Category B. It does not pose a risk for fetal harm. Consult a doctor regarding steps to take if planning pregnancy or breastfeeding.
  • Omeprazole is in Pregnancy Category C. Not enough research has been performed in humans. Consult a doctor regarding steps to take if planning pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Summary

Ranitidine and omeprazole are two similar drugs that treat digestive problems. While they both treat conditions such as GERD and Zollinger-Ellison syndrome, they are both chemically different. Ranitidine works as a histamine blocker while omeprazole works as a proton pump inhibitor.

Both medications can be purchased with a prescription or over the counter. However, omeprazole OTC is recommended in individuals aged 18 years and older. Ranitidine OTC is recommended for those age 12 years and older. Omeprazole may be preferred for certain conditions such as H. pylori infection while ranitidine may be used for more short term conditions. Ranitidine also comes in more formulations than omeprazole.

Regardless of their differences, ranitidine and omeprazole carry similar side effects such as headache, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Omeprazole may rarely cause more serious adverse conditions such as C. diff infection.

It is important to discuss your overall condition and other medications with your doctor to find the best treatment option for you.