Background: On-demand therapy may offer an effective approach to the long-term management of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) without oesophagitis.
Aim: To examine the efficacy of the novel proton pump inhibitor esomeprazole as on-demand therapy in endoscopy-negative GORD.
Patients and methods: Endoscopy-negative GORD patients who achieved complete resolution of heartburn after short-term esomeprazole or omeprazole treatment (n = 721) were randomized to esomeprazole 20 mg (n = 282), 40 mg (n = 293) or placebo (n = 146) on demand (maximum one dose/day) for 6 months. The primary and secondary efficacy endpoints were time to study discontinuation due to (i) unwillingness to continue and (ii) inadequate control of heartburn, respectively.
Results: Both doses of esomeprazole were more effective than placebo. During the 6-month period, 42% of placebo recipients discontinued treatment due to unwillingness to continue, compared with 8% and 11% of esomeprazole 20 mg and 40 mg recipients, respectively. Overall, more patients treated with esomeprazole were free from gastrointestinal symptoms after 6 months of on-demand therapy.
Conclusions: Esomeprazole 20 mg was superior to placebo for on-demand treatment of GORD; a higher dose did not confer additional clinical benefit. Over 90% of patients were willing to continue on-demand treatment with esomeprazole 20 mg over a 6-month period.