Background: A potential causal association between an increase in gastric pH and a risk of community-acquired respiratory tract infection (RTI), specifically pneumonia, has been debated in relation to the use of potent gastric acid-suppressive medication.
Objective: To investigate the occurrence of community-acquired RTI, including pneumonia, in patients receiving esomeprazole versus placebo and other acid-suppressive agents in randomized clinical trials.
Methods: The AstraZeneca ARIADNE safety database was searched for comparative, controlled phase II-IV randomized, blinded clinical studies with esomeprazole and standard reporting of all adverse events (AEs). Pooled AE data were presented according to treatment comparison (esomeprazole versus placebo, esomeprazole 40 mg versus 20 mg daily, esomeprazole versus omeprazole, lansoprazole and/or ranitidine, respectively). Frequency and relative risk (RR), with 99% confidence interval (CI) and adjustment for time on treatment, were calculated for the following four AE categories: all RTIs; signs and symptoms potentially indicating RTI; lower RTI; and pneumonia.
Results: Thirty-one studies were identified, in which 16 583 patients received esomeprazole and 12 044 patients received either placebo or comparator acid-suppressive drugs. The occurrence of all four categories of AEs was similar between esomeprazole and placebo (all RTIs: 9.2% versus 8.5%; signs and symptoms of RTI: 1.8% versus 1.8%; lower RTI: 1.6% versus 1.5%; and pneumonia: 0.2% in both groups). The RR estimates were as follows: all RTIs, 0.93 (99% CI 0.78, 1.11); signs and symptoms of RTI, 0.85 (99% CI 0.57, 1.27); lower RTI, 0.92 (99% CI 0.59, 1.42); and pneumonia, 0.94 (99% CI 0.29, 3.07). The distribution of RTIs by patient sex and age showed a similar pattern in esomeprazole and placebo-treated patients. The comparisons of esomeprazole with the other comparator acid-suppressive drugs showed a similar pattern with only minor numerical differences in the occurrence of RTI between the drugs. There were no significant between-group differences with esomeprazole versus placebo for all four categories of AEs according to esomeprazole dosage, treatment indication and duration of treatment.
Conclusions: This pooled analysis found no causal association between acid-suppressive therapy with esomeprazole and increased risk of community-acquired RTI, including pneumonia, in patients receiving this agent for gastric acid-related disorders.