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Heartburn Pills May Soothe Side Effects of Painkillers

They could benefit people who take medications for arthritis, chronic pain

TUESDAY, Oct. 14, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- People who take painkillers regularly to control arthritis or other chronic pain may keep stomach ulcers at bay by using drugs called proton pump inhibitors, says an international study.

Regular use of such non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) as ibuprofen, naproxen and COX 2 inhibitors puts people at a quadrupled risk of developing ulcers over the long term.

The multi-center, randomized, placebo-controlled study found the prescription heartburn drug esomeprazole, a proton pump inhibitor, helped prevent ulcers among 573 people who were long-term painkiller users.

The drug blocks the production and secretion of gastric acid.

The study was presented Oct. 14 in Baltimore at the annual meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology.

"This is a very encouraging result, especially since the participants represented the 'real-world' population that faces this ulcer risk. The effect was strong in participants taking over-the-counter painkillers, as well as those taking prescription COX 2 inhibitor drugs," researcher Dr. James Scheiman, a University of Michigan gastroenterologist, says in a prepared statement.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about chronic pain.

SOURCE: University of Michigan Health System, news release, Oct. 14, 2003
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