The aim of this study was to compare recurrence rates of reflux oesophagitis (after endoscopic healing with omeprazole) over a 12 month period of randomised, double blind, maintenance treatment with either daily omeprazole (20 mg every morning; n = 53), weekend omeprazole (20 mg on three consecutive days a week, n = 55) or daily ranitidine (150 mg twice daily, n = 51). Patients were assessed for relapse by endoscopy (with gastric biopsy) at six and 12 months, or in the event of symptomatic recurrence, and serum gastrin was monitored. At 12 months, the estimated proportions of patients in remission (actuarial life table method) were 89% when receiving daily omeprazole compared with 32% when receiving weekend omeprazole (difference 57%, p < 0.001, 95% confidence intervals: 42% to 71%) and 25% when receiving daily ranitidine (difference 64%, p < 0.001, 95% confidence intervals: 50% to 78%). Median gastrin concentrations increased slightly during the healing phase, but remained within the normal range and did not change during maintenance treatment. No significant pathological findings were noted, and no adverse events were attributable to the study treatments. In conclusion, for patients who respond favourably to acute treatment with omeprazole 20 mg every morning, the drug is a safe and highly effective maintenance treatment for preventing relapse of reflux oesophagitis and its associated symptoms over 12 months. By contrast, weekend omeprazole and daily ranitidine were ineffective.
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