Brand Name Drug: Nexium
Active Ingredient Drug: esomeprazole magnesium
Indication: Treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease
Company Name: AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals
Availability: Nexium received approval for use in Sweden in March 2000; USA – February 20, 2001
Nearly 60 million Americans experience symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a chronic condition in which stomach acids bubble up into the esophagus, causing the feeling more commonly known as heartburn. If left uncontrolled, GERD can progress to more serious complications, including bleeding, precancer, and esophageal cancer. A class of drugs called “proton pump inhibitors” (PPIs), introduced in the late 1980s, has vastly improved the treatment of GERD.
Prilosec (omeprazole), the PPI most commonly prescribed for GERD, may soon be overtaken by an even better drug. New studies reported at the Digestive Disease Week meeting in San Diego in May 2000 indicate that Nexium (esomeprazole magnesium) is superior to Prilosec for healing erosive esophagitis – one of the most serious forms of GERD – and resolving heartburn in these patients. Nexium, a chemical cousin of Prilosec, is the first PPI to demonstrate this level of effectiveness.
Like many other drugs in its class, Nexium is easy to take: just one 40 mg delayed-release tablet once a day. Nexium works by interfering with a key enzyme system involved in the production of acid in the stomach.
Both Nexium and Prilosec are manufactured by AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals. Nexium is currently being evaluated by the US Food and Drug Administration.
Nexium (esomeprazole magnesium): Clinical Study Results
One US study, led by Dr. Peter J. Kahrilas and his colleagues, compared the effectiveness of 40 mg/day and 20 mg/day of Nexium to that of 20 mg/day of Prilosec in 1,960 patients with erosive esophagitis. The drugs were taken for 8 weeks. At weeks 4 and 8, more patients taking Nexium experienced healing than those who took Prilosec; more Nexium patients also reported resolution of heartburn, and in less time.
Another trial, conducted at 163 US centers and led by Dr. Joel E. Richter, compared 40 mg/day of Nexium with 20 mg/day of Prilosec in 2,425 patients with erosive esophagitis who were also treated for 8 weeks. Nexium produced increased healing and better resolution of heartburn and regurgitation than Prilosec at both weeks 4 and 8.
The most common side effects reported by patients taking Nexium were headache, abdominal pain, and diarrhea – symptoms comparable to those reported by patients taking other types of PPIs.