Pfizer today announced the introduction in the U.S. of over-the-counter (OTC) Nexium® 24HR, making The Purple Pill® available for the treatment of frequent heartburn (two or more days a week) in adults (18 years and older). Heartburn affects more than 60 million men and women in the United States at least once a month with 15 million Americans suffering from it daily.

Pfizer acquired exclusive global OTC rights to NEXIUM®, one of the largest selling prescription brands in the U.S., from AstraZeneca in August 2012. Nexium 24HR was approved by the Food and Drug Administration on March 28, and received three year market exclusivity. Switching medicines from prescription to non-prescription status improves consumer access to affordable healthcare options, empowers people to take charge of their health, and is an important strategy for Pfizer. The launch of Nexium 24HR makes Pfizer a leading player in all four of the largest OTC categories – pain management, dietary supplements, respiratory and, now, digestive.

“The addition of Nexium 24HR to our portfolio enhances our ability to help consumers better manage their health,” said Paul Sturman, President and General Manager, Pfizer Consumer Healthcare. “Nexium 24HR creates a new option for treating frequent heartburn with the confidence of a brand that consumers and healthcare providers know and trust. The OTC availability of Nexium 24HR in the U.S. marks the first step in our efforts to build a strong, global position in digestive health with this powerful brand.”

Nexium 24HR has been available in the U.S. for preorder at since April 15, 2014, and, within 72 hours, Nexium 24HR will be available nationwide at most retailer outlets.

“Switching a brand with this kind of loyalty and equity is a tremendous business opportunity, and we have a critical responsibility to our partners, to our retail customers, to healthcare providers and most importantly, to consumers,” said T.J. Higgins, North American President, Pfizer Consumer Healthcare. “Nexium 24HR protects people from frequent heartburn, and also from the fear and hesitation that heartburn causes.”

Nexium 24HR works differently than other OTC medications for heartburn such as antacids and histamine blockers. Specifically, Nexium 24HR is a proton pump inhibitor (PPI), which means it stops acid production at the source, by blocking the pumps that release acid into the stomach. In fact, PPIs like Nexium 24HR are the only FDA-approved medications for over-the-counter treatment of frequent heartburn.

“I, along with many of my colleagues, have come to trust The Purple Pill® as the number one prescribed acid blocker brand,” said David A. Johnson, MD, MACG, FASGE, Professor of Medicine and Chief of Gastroenterology Eastern VA Medical School Norfolk VA. “The availability of Nexium 24HR represents an important development in access to the medication at a time when people are in need of a short term course of therapy for effective self-care solutions. And with 15 million Americans suffering from heartburn daily1, making NEXIUM available without prescription helps to fill a crucially important unmet need.”

Nexium 24HR is to be used once a day (every 24 hours), every day for 14 days and may take 1-4 days for full effect. The 14-day course can be repeated every 4 months. People should not take more than 1 capsule of Nexium 24HR a day, unless directed by a doctor.