Peptic Ulcer Treatment Improves Health, Saves Money

ANN ARBOR, Mich.--Millions of people with a history of peptic ulcer disease continue to receive unnecessary treatment, according to researchers at the University of Michigan Medical Center.

The U-M study, which was recently published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, concluded that people with ulcer disease who are being treated with acid-blocking medication should now be tested to determine if they harbor the H. pylori bacteria---whether or not they have any ulcer symptoms. The U-M researchers reported that prompt diagnosis and treatment for H. pylori infection improved patient health and saved money.

It has become widely accepted in recent years that ulcer disease is usually caused by H. pylori bacterial infection. If a newly diagnosed patient tests positive for H. pylori, the recommended course of action is antibiotic treatment to eradicate the bacteria---a regimen that nearly always cures the disease in a matter of weeks.

However, millions of people were diagnosed before the link between ulcer disease and H. pylori was documented. The large majority have been receiving ulcer treatment---sometimes for several years---with acid-blocking (or antisecretory) medication. It is this group the U-M researchers examined.

The study team, led by A. Mark Fendrick, M.D., assistant professor of internal medicine at U-M, used a computer simulation of ulcer patients to compare the clinical and economic outcomes for subjects divided into two treatment groups. One group received medication to immediately eradicate the H. pylori bacteria. Patients also halted antisecretory maintenance therapy. The second group continued antisecretory maintenance therapy with H. pylori eradication used only if symptoms recurred.

The analytical model estimated that after one year, patient

Contact: Pete Barkey
(313) 764-2220
University of Michigan

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