A double-blind, placebo-controlled study was carried out to see whether the synthetic E prostaglandin, misoprostol, would prevent gastric ulcer induced by non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). 420 patients with osteoarthritis and NSAID-associated abdominal pain were studied; they were receiving ibuprofen, piroxicam, or naproxen. Endoscopy was done at entry and after 1, 2, and 3 months of continuous treatment with 100 micrograms or 200 micrograms misoprostol or placebo, given four times daily with meals and at bedtime, concurrently with the NSAID. Abdominal pain was rated independently by patients and physicians. A treatment failure was defined as development of a gastric ulcer. Gastric ulcers (0.3 cm in diameter or greater) occurred less frequently (p less than 0.001) in both misoprostol treatment groups (5.6% 100 micrograms and 1.4% 200 micrograms) than in the placebo group (21.7%). The significant difference in ulcer formation between the placebo and the misoprostol treatment groups remained when comparisons were restricted to ulcers greater than 0.5 cm in diameter (12.3% placebo, 4.2% 100 micrograms misoprostol, and 0.7% 200 micrograms misoprostol). Mild to moderate, self-limiting diarrhoea was the most frequently reported adverse effect attributed to misoprostol. These results provide the first clear indication that NSAID-induced ulcers are preventable.
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