What is Ranitidine?

Zantac is a branded version of Ranitidine, an acid reflux medication. Zantac belongs to a class of medications called H2 antagonists. This means that it works by reducing the number of available receptors on the surface of certain cells in the stomach. This has the effect of reducing the amount of stomach acid produced. Acid reflux is related to the amount of stomach acid, as it is caused by stomach acid entering the oesophagus (food pipe). This causes damage and discomfort that may be experienced as heartburn. 

Can you buy Zantac over the counter in the UK?

H2 antagonists, such as Zantac, are available over the counter in the UK at a low dose of 75mg. However, H2 antagonists are available at higher strengths on prescription from your GP or an online pharmacy, such as Dr Felix. A range of over the counter acid reflux treatments are available, and it is generally recommended that you try these first before seeking prescription treatments. This is because prescription treatments tend to be stronger and therefore have a greater risk of side effects than over the counter options. 


Alternative treatments

Acid reflux treatments fall into four main drug classes: antacids, alginates, H2 antagonists and PPIs. Antacids, such as Rennies, neutralise the acidity of the stomach acid, which helps to reduce the damage and discomfort associated with acid entering the oesophagus. Alternatively, alginates work by creating a raft-like gel layer that floats on the stomach acid. This helps to prevent the stomach acid from entering the oesophagus in the first place. Both antacids and alginates are widely available over the counter. 

H2 antagonists and PPIs are available over the counter at low doses, but higher doses are only available on prescription. Examples of PPIs include Pantoprazole, Lansoprazole, Omeprazole and Esomeprazole. PPIs work by reducing the amount of stomach acid. Omeprazole and Esomeprazole are available over the counter in 20mg tablets.