The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Zegerid OTC, a new over-the-counter treatment for frequent heartburn.

Zegerid OTC is a proton pump inhibitor, the strongest and most effective class of acid-reducing medications, which works by controlling and suppressing acid for a full 24 hours, all day and all night.

Schering-Plough HealthCare Products executive vice-president and president Stan Barshay said that this is important news for millions of Americans dealing with frequent heartburn.

The treatment contains a patented dual-ingredient formulation, which combines the leading prescription acid-reducing medicine (omeprazole) with sodium bicarbonate to protect the omeprazole from acid in the stomach.

The new treatment will be marketed over-the-counter in early 2010 by Schering-Plough HealthCare Products, the consumer healthcare division of Merck & Co.