Background: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are an effective and common treatment for chronic pain disorders, but long-term use is associated with risk of potentially life-threatening gastrointestinal adverse events (AEs). The proton pump inhibitor esomeprazole has been found to be effective for gastroprotection in NSAID users, but few long-term studies have been conducted in Japan.Methods: This was an open-label, multicentre, single-arm, prospective 1-year study of treatment with esomeprazole (20 mg once daily) in Japanese patients (aged ≥20 years) with endoscopic evidence of previous peptic ulcer and receiving daily oral NSAID therapy (at a stable dose) for a chronic condition. Eligibility was not dictated by type of oral NSAID. The primary objective was to determine long-term safety and tolerability of esomeprazole. Efficacy for prevention of peptic ulcers was also determined (Kaplan-Meier method). All statistical analyses were descriptive.Results: A total of 130 patients (73.1% women, mean age 62.1 years, 43.8% Helicobacter pylori-positive) received treatment with esomeprazole in addition to long-term NSAID therapy (most commonly for rheumatoid arthritis [n=42] and osteoarthritis [n=34]). Loxoprofen, meloxicam and diclofenac were the most commonly used NSAIDs; cyclo-oxygenase (COX)-2 selective agents were used by 16.2% of patients (n=21). Long-term compliance with esomeprazole (capsule counts) was >75% for the majority of patients. Although 16.9% of patients (n=22) experienced AEs judged to be possibly related to treatment with esomeprazole, they were mostly mild and transient. The most commonly reported possibly treatment-related AEs were abnormal hepatic function, headache, increased γ-glutamyltransferase levels and muscle spasms (2 patients each). Overall, 95.9% (95% confidence interval: 92.3, 99.4) of patients remained ulcer free at 1 year.Conclusion: Long-term treatment with esomeprazole (20 mg once daily) is well tolerated and efficacious for preventing ulcer recurrence in Japanese NSAID users with a history of peptic ulcer.Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov identifier NCT00595517.
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