The launch of a new over-the-counter heartburn treatment containing omeprazole – an ingredient previously only available on prescription – marks a major breakthrough for up to 40% of the UK adults who suffer from heartburn (1) As the first over-the-counter omeprazole brand, Zanprol is set to revolutionise the management of heartburn, widening access to this medicine, which can give sufferers weeks free from the pain and misery of recurrent heartburn (2) (following a short course of 2-4 weeks).
Its use by millions of patients worldwide has demonstrated that omeprazole is a highly effective and well-tolerated treatment for heartburn and related acid disorders (3,4).The UK is only the third country in the world after the US and Sweden to make it available direct from the pharmacy. Recurrent heartburn can seriously affect the lives of sufferers and it is predicted that Zanprol will encourage a much-needed re-evaluation of its treatment.
Dr Richard Stevens, GP and Chairman of the Primary Care Society for Gastroenterology, comments: “Recurrent heartburn can have a dramatic impact on people’s quality of life. Pharmacists are well qualified to manage this condition and over-the-counter omeprazole will enable easier access for sufferers.”
One in three people suffer regularly
Although as many as 1 in 3 adults suffer with recurrent heartburn (5) (15% of sufferers claim to suffer daily), the size of the problem in the UK is overlooked. In spite of pain which is often daily, sufferers tend to battle on regardless because heartburn is not generally considered to be a serious condition – even though the discomfort can be extreme - with many sufferers not choosing the optimum treatment.
Symptoms can include a burning sensation in the chest area and a bitter taste at the back of the mouth. Many live in fear of an attack, claiming it has effects on their mood and well-being (6,7).
Heartburn can be stressful and lead to loss of sleep on a regular basis, impacting on social lives and the ability to lead a normal everyday life. It can also cause absenteeism and reduced workplace productivity. Left untreated, the condition can result in a greater negative impact on emotional wellbeing than hypertension, the menopause or angina (8). It accounts for as many as one in twenty GP consultations.(9)
The starting dose of Zanprol is two tablets once daily to obtain symptom relief (about 3-4 days). When symptoms improve, the dose can then be reduced to one tablet once daily, returning to two tablets if symptoms return. After a short course (2-4 weeks) of initial treatment, heartburn sufferers can benefit from weeks free from recurrent attacks. However, if no relief is obtained after two weeks, it is advisable to consult a doctor.
New website and consumer leaflet
The launch of a new website - www.heartburnrelief.co.uk - and a consumer leaflet, ‘Recurrent Heartburn’, by GSK Consumer Healthcare aims to provide further support for heartburn sufferers. The site will feature a heartburn identifier tool and tips will be given on how to prevent heartburn - including a printable ‘trigger tracker’ – along with FAQ’s and a ‘submit a tip’ page. Recurrent heartburn sufferers will be offered useful information on Zanprol.
The objective of the website is to educate heartburn sufferers about how to manage their heartburn and demonstrate that it no longer has to be an inevitable part of their everyday lives.
Having a few weeks off from heartburn is something that can really help the lives of recurrent sufferers such as Tim Brooks, aged 42:
‘Whenever I had an episode of heartburn, it would disrupt my sleep - I used to have to sit up in bed to try to alleviate the discomfort but then I wouldn't be able to get a good night's sleep.
It also affected other parts of my life, spoiling social events and family activities - especially at Christmas time. I used to find that although it didn't actually prevent me from doing these things, it would still stop me from enjoying myself.
Red wine and fried or spicy foods were certain to trigger an attack, especially if I had them on an empty stomach, and my condition was beginning to really affect my everyday life.
Then I found out about Zanprol Tablets, and the opportunity to have weeks free from heartburn seemed really attractive. I took Zanprol Tablets for a period of 5 days and found that I felt really good. And now, although I'm still careful about my diet, I know I can rely on Zanprol Tablets to help ease my situation. If a friend asked me about Zanprol Tablets, I’d have no hesitation in recommending them”.
Further information and advice about Zanprol Tablets (recommended price £9.49 for a pack of 14) and heartburn is available from pharmacies.
Issued: 20 October 2004
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1 Spechler SJ. Epidemiology and natural history of gastr-oesophageal reflux disease. Digestion 1992; 51 Suppl 1: 24-29.
2 Bardan KD, Muller-Lissner S, Bigard MA et al. Symptomatic gastro-oesophageal reflux disease: double blind controlled study of intermittent treatment with omeprazole or ranitidine. The European Study Group. BMJ 1999; 318: 502-507.
3 - Tolman KG, Chandramouli J, Fang JC. Proton pump inhibitors in the treatment of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease. Expert Opin Pharmacother 2000; 1: 1171–1194.
4 - Kuipers EJ, Meuwissen SG. The efficacy and safety of long-term omeprazole treatment for gastroesophageal reflux disease. Gastroenterology 2000; 118: 795–798.
5 Acid Reflux and Oesophagitis. Prodigy validated patient information leaflet. Accessed from www.prodigy.nhs.uk
6 Howden CW, Chey WD. Gastroesophageal reflux disease. J Fam Pract 2003; 52: 240–247.
7 A. Mandish. Impact of reflux Disease on General and Disease- Related Quality of Life- Evidence from a Recent Comparative Methodological Study in Germany.
8 Dimenas E. Methodological aspects of evaluaation of quality of life in upper gasrointestinal disease. Scand J Gastroenterol Suppl 1993; 199; 18-21
9 Jonston. The significance of heartburn. QJ Med 2000, 93; 321-322
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