Omeprazole is more effective than cimetidine for the relief of all grades of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease-associated heartburn, irrespective of the presence or absence of endoscopic oesophagitis

Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 1997 Aug;11(4):755-63. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2036.1997.00198.x.


Background: Previous studies have demonstrated greater efficacy for omeprazole compared with cimetidine in patients with endoscopically verified oesophagitis, but excluded the substantial group of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GERD) patients with reflux symptoms but without endoscopic abnormality. This prospective, randomized, double-blind study compared omeprazole and cimetidine in the treatment of GERD-associated heartburn both in patients with symptomatic non-ulcerative oesophagitis and in those with heartburn but without oesophagitis.

Methods: A total of 221 patients with heartburn and oesophageal mucosa grade 0 (normal, n = 51), 1 (no macroscopic erosions, n = 52), 2 (isolated erosions, n = 97) or 3 (confluent erosions, n = 21) were randomized to receive double-blind either omeprazole 20 mg daily or cimetidine 400 mg q.d.s. for a period of 4 weeks. Those still symptomatic after 4 weeks of treatment received omeprazole 20 mg daily for a further 4 weeks.

Results: There was no correlation between severity of heartburn and endoscopic grade at entry (correlation coefficient = 0.196). After 4 weeks of treatment, the proportion of patients in whom heartburn was controlled (no more than mild symptoms on no more than 1 day in the previous 7) on omeprazole (66%; 74/112) was more than double that on cimetidine (31%; 34/109) (P < 0.0001). There was no significant difference between the relief of heartburn in the 47% of patients without unequivocal oesophagitis (endoscopic grade 0 or 1) and in the 53% of patients with erosive oesophagitis (grade 2 or 3) (P = 0.31). Only treatment with omeprazole (P < 0.0001) and lower severity of heartburn at entry (P < 0.01) were significant in predicting heartburn relief. Amongst those patients requiring an additional 4 weeks of treatment with omeprazole, 67% (54/81) reported that their heartburn was controlled after 8 weeks of treatment.

Conclusion: We conclude that omeprazole is superior to cimetidine for the relief of all grades of heartburn in GERD, whether or not the patient has unequivocal endoscopic oesophagitis.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anti-Ulcer Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cimetidine / therapeutic use*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Esophagitis / complications*
  • Female
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / complications
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / drug therapy*
  • Heartburn / drug therapy*
  • Heartburn / etiology
  • Heartburn / pathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Omeprazole / therapeutic use*
  • Patient Satisfaction


  • Anti-Ulcer Agents
  • Cimetidine
  • Omeprazole