Maintenance treatment of duodenal ulcer (DU) with ranitidine 150 mg/day was compared with placebo in a two year prospective multicentre randomised study. Three hundred and ninety nine patients were included (mean age: 44.7 years, M/F ratio = 2.47/1; 37.6% of smokers) in placebo (n = 202) and ranitidine (n = 197) groups. Efficacy was assessed by the length of time to the first ulcer pain attack (with or without endoscopic confirmation) or DU complication. One hundred and fourteen patients of 399 (28.6%) had incomplete follow up. Actuarial survival curves of patients without ulcer pain (26 and 53% at two years in placebo and ranitidine groups, respectively) were significantly different (p < 0.0001). Endoscopies were performed depending on physicians' decision (mainly where there was severe pain or complication). Patients without relapses from endoscopy were more frequent in the ranitidine group (83%) than in the placebo group (47%, p < 0.0001). A greater incidence of complications, mainly bleeding, was also seen in the placebo group (13 complications v two in the ranitidine group, p < 0.002). No factor predicting DU relapse was identified. No important side effect was encountered. Ranitidine 150 mg/day is effective and well tolerated in preventing ulcer pain attacks and DU complications for up to two years.
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