Review of proton pump inhibitors for the initial treatment of heartburn: is there a dose ceiling effect?

Pamela R Kushner, David A Peura
Advances in Therapy 2011, 28 (5): 367-88
Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are widely used in clinical practice. However, concerns have been expressed about their long-term use, particularly with regard to bone health, Clostridium difficile infections, and drug interactions with platelet aggregation inhibitors. There has been limited guidance for clinicians concerning appropriate dose selection of PPIs for the initial treatment of heartburn. This review explored whether published clinical trials provide evidence of a ceiling above which higher PPI doses do not provide additional clinical benefit over the lowest approved dose. All articles of randomized, controlled clinical trials in nonerosive gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) in which the effects of two or more doses of the same PPI on symptomatic relief of heartburn were quantified as a study endpoint were identified and analyzed through PubMed searches up to the end of September 2010. The majority of trials evaluated provided no evidence that higher PPI doses were superior to the lowest approved dose for the initial treatment of heartburn. There were no clinically relevant findings with respect to dose dependence and safety outcomes in these studies. Efficacy outcomes from the trials suggest there may be a dose ceiling effect and highlight the need for further research on the use of the lowest effective PPI doses as an appropriate strategy in the initial treatment of uncomplicated heartburn. Observational studies and some meta-analyses have suggested that long-term PPI pharmacotherapy might be associated with safety concerns, which necessitate the periodic evaluation of therapeutic benefit in terms of symptom resolution and regimen tolerability. However, evidence to date suggests that use of the lowest effective dose for the indication is not associated with significant adverse events, particularly in the short term. Clinical practice suggests that patients requiring long-term treatment should be maintained on the lowest dose necessary to control symptoms, and monitored for potentially confounding factors that may lead to safety concerns.

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