Background and aims: The role of clopidogrel in patients at risk for gastrointestinal complications is uncertain, although it has been recommended for patients who have gastrointestinal intolerance to aspirin. We tested the hypothesis that clopidogrel is as effective as esomeprazole and aspirin in preventing recurrences of ulcer complications.
Methods: This was a prospective, double-blind, randomized, controlled study of 170 patients who developed ulcer bleeding after the use of low-dose aspirin between November 2002 and January 2005. After healing of ulcers and eradication of Helicobacter pylori, if present, patients were assigned randomly to treatment with esomeprazole 20 mg/day and aspirin 100 mg/day (n = 86) or clopidogrel 75 mg/day (n = 84) for 52 weeks. The primary end point was recurrent ulcer complications.
Results: During a median follow-up period of 52 weeks, no patient in the esomeprazole group, as compared with 9 patients in the clopidogrel group, developed recurrent ulcer complications. The cumulative incidences of recurrent ulcer complications were 0% in patients receiving esomeprazole and aspirin and 13.6% in patients receiving clopidogrel (absolute difference, 13.6%; 95% confidence interval for the difference, 6.3-20.9; log-rank test, P = .0019).
Conclusions: The combination of esomeprazole and aspirin is superior to clopidogrel in preventing ulcer complications in patients who have a past history of aspirin-related peptic ulcer bleeding.