Omeprazole is a generic form of a medication that can be purchased either OTC (over the counter) or with a doctor’s prescription. Brand names include Prilosec OTC, Zegerid OTC, OmePPi and Zegerid. A discussion with your doctor should make it clear which version of the drug is suitable for your medical condition.

Benefits and side effects of omeprazole
The drug classification for omeprazole is proton pump inhibitor (PPI). PPIs are drugs engineered to remedy acid damage, prevent ulcers and lower the level of acid produced in the stomach. Physicians often prescribe PPIs to patients with GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). Omeprazole can provide relief from symptoms like heartburn, swallowing difficulty and a perpetual cough.

Common side effects include headache and abdominal pain. Alert your doctor immediately if you experience an irregular heartbeat, continuous muscle spasms, rash or joint pain. Proper ingestion of omeprazole is important because it is a delayed release tablet. The tablet should be dissolved on the tongue and then swallowed whole either with or without water. If it is crushed, broken or chewed, there is the potential that the entire dose will release immediately, raising the risk of side effects. It is also recommended that the medication be taken at the same time every day.

Medicare drug plans
In order to receive Medicare benefits for prescription drugs, Medicare recipients must enroll in Part D. However, Part D coverage excludes non-prescription/over-the-counter drugs with the exception of insulin and supplies associated with the injection of insulin, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). With a doctor’s prescription, omeprazole should be covered.

The best time to enroll in drug coverage is when you first become eligible for Medicare benefits. For current recipients of Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board payments, Parts A and B will be automatic. The coverage will be effective the first of the month of your 65th birthday unless your birthday falls on the first, in which case the start date is the first day of the previous month.

Part D is not automatic, and late enrollment can incur a penalty in the form of higher premiums. Medicare recipients may enroll in a Medicare prescription drug plan as an add-on to Original Medicare or opt for a Medicare Advantage (MA) plan instead. Many MA plans include Medicare benefits for drugs. A Medicare Advantage plan that packages prescription drug coverage along with Parts A and B is sometimes referred to as an MA-PD plan.


Across the country, both stand-alone Medicare drug plans and MA-PD plans differ in cost and pharmaceutical products covered. Compare the options available in your area to find the one that meets your needs.

Related articles:

Are All Medicare Part D Plans the Same?(Opens in a new browser tab)

Do I Need Prescription Drug Coverage?(Opens in a new browser tab)