Drug Safety

, Volume 21, Issue 6, pp 503–512

Prevention of the Gastrointestinal Adverse Effects of Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs

The Role of Proton Pump Inhibitors
Practical Drug Safety

DOI: 10.2165/00002018-199921060-00006

Cite this article as:
Brown, G.J.E. & Yeomans, N.D. Drug-Safety (1999) 21: 503. doi:10.2165/00002018-199921060-00006


The associations between nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and the presence and complications of gastroduodenal erosions and ulcers are well established. Evidence that acid aggravates NSAID-induced injury provides a rationale for minimising such damage by acid suppression. Other strategies discussed include avoidance of NSAIDs or minimising their dosage, selecting NSAIDs known to cause less damage, and co-prescription of various agents.

Cytoprotection with misoprostol, a prostaglandin analogue, has been shown to be effective in reducing NSAID-related peptic ulcers and their complications. Unfortunately, adverse effects may limit compliance in some patients. Histamine H2 antagonists have only limited efficacy in the prevention of NSAID-induced ulcers in humans, particularly in the stomach, except at higher than standard dosages. This may relate to their relatively modest effect in elevating gastric pH, especially in comparison with proton pump inhibitors.

Several studies now confirm the efficacy of proton pump inhibitors in the short and longer term prevention of NSAID-induced upper gastrointestinal injury. Placebo-controlled studies suggest reductions of over 70% in gastric and duodenal ulcerrates over 3 to 6 months. The recent ASTRONAUT (Acid Suppression Trial: Ranitidine versus Omeprazole for NSAID-Associated Ulcer Treatment) study documented the greater prophylactic efficacy of omeprazole over ranitidine at standard dosages for 6 months. The OMNIUM (Omeprazole versus Misoprostol for NSAID-Induced Ulcer Management) study showed omeprazole to be slightly more effective overall than misoprostol in preventing the upper gastrointestinal adverse effects of NSAIDs, with both substantially more effective than placebo, although misoprostol was somewhat less well tolerated.

Although substantial reductions in NSAID ulceration are now achievable when co-therapy with a proton pump inhibitor is given, a few patients will still develop ulcers and their complications. Hence the judicious use of NSAIDs in the first instance cannot be overemphasised.

Copyright information

© Adis International Limited 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Medicine, Western HospitalThe University of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.Department of MedicineWestern HospitalFootscrayAustralia