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Nexium Reduces Stomach Ulcers in High-Risk Patients

Finding could benefit those who regularly take painkillers

FRIDAY, March 31, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- The drug Nexium may reduce the incidence of stomach ulcers in high-risk patients, according to two studies in the April issue of the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

The two six-month clinical trials included a U.S. study with 844 patients and an international study with 585 patients at risk of developing stomach ulcers and who regularly take either non-selective nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or COX-2 selective NSAIDs.

NSAIDs are known to increase the risk of stomach ulcers, particularly among older people who take the NSAIDs regularly or who have a history of stomach ulcers.

Pooled data from the two studies showed that fewer patients taking either 20 milligrams or 40 milligrams of Nexium, in addition to their regular non-selective NSAID/COX-2-selective therapy, developed an ulcer at six months, compared with patients who took a placebo -- 5.2 percent and 4.6 percent respectively, vs. 17 percent.

The research was funded by the drug company AstraZeneca, which markets Nexium, known generically as esomeprazole magnesium.

"Paradoxically, NSAID use is common among patients at high risk for gastric ulcers or other complications associated with these medications. Although COX-2-selective drugs generally cause fewer gastric ulcers than non-selective NSAIDs, these events aren't completely eliminated, and the residual side-effect rate may be high," Dr. James M. Scheiman, division of gastroenterology in the department of internal medicine at the University of Michigan, said in a prepared statement.

"Data from the two trials showed that Nexium was effective in reducing stomach ulcers in at-risk patients who require chronic NSAID treatment," Scheiman said.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about ulcers.

SOURCE: University of Michigan Health System, news release, March 22, 2006
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