Background: Considerable controversy persists over the influence of H2-receptor antagonists on the first pass clearance of ethanol. The majority of previously published studies have studied the effects of the drugs on low-dose ethanol in the fasting state. We elected to study the possible interaction under simulated real-life conditions.
Methods: Twenty-three volunteers were given 0.6 g/kg body weight ethanol in the form of 4.8% beer following a standardized meal. Blood ethanol levels were measured over the next 3 h. Studies were repeated using ethanol administered as an intravenous infusion while subjects consumed the same volume of de-alcoholized beer. The effects of a minimum of 2 weeks of dosing with cimetidine, ranitidine and omeprazole were examined.
Results: Following food, and with ethanol taken in the form of beer, mean first pass metabolism of ethanol was 58% (range 34-78%). No statistically significant difference was found following drug treatment in either percentage first pass metabolism, peak blood ethanol concentration or area under the time-blood ethanol curve.
Conclusion: Under these 'real-life' conditions, the concomitant administration of cimetidine, ranitidine or omeprazole is unlikely to have significant physical, social or forensic implications, since they do not significantly change ethanol elimination.