This page contains latest medicine news for people suffering from heartburn and acid reflux.
For most people, diet, medicines they can buy at the chemist or prescription medicines work very well.
Some people still suffer, however. For many, the reason is that the diagnosis is wrong. They may need the specialist advice of a gastroenterologist who is up to date with the advances in the field.
Even if the diagnosis is correct, not everyone has perfect control of symptoms on acid suppression medicine alone. We know that in some people, the juice refluxing from the stomach into the oesophagus also contains contents from the small bowel (duodenal refluxate). These contents are not acidic. In one study (Gut. 2003;53:1397-1402), administration of the gamma-aminobutyric acid B (GABA B) receptor agonist, baclofen, significantly reduced the amount of duodenal reflux and patients, who had not responded well to PPI therapy, noted a significant improvement in their symptoms.
Baclofen is a γ -aminobutyric acid (GABA) derivative that inhibits the production of transient lower oesophageal sphincter relaxations or TLOSRs by activating the GABAB receptors along the vagovagal reflex arc. It is therefore not surprising that a number of studies suggest that baclofen decreases acid reflux events also.
A number of other GABA B receptor agonists have been investigated, for example lesogaberan. This drug was been developed specifically for gastroesophageal reflux disease. Unfortunately, it was withdrawn during clinical trials.
Another approach is to coat the lining of the oesophagus with a powerful agent which literally sticks to the lining and makes it impervious to the effects of acid. Sucralfate, or Caralfate is one such drug which has been used widely for years and successfully treats both stomach ulcers and the injuries caused by acid reflux.
The problem with this drug is that it is not considered safe to take long term. It is therefore used for only a few weeks at a time under direct supervision of a doctor who is familiar with using it.
Other drugs are being developed and in the next few years, further treatments are likely to become more widely available. It is therefore worth consulting a gastroenterologist who keeps up to date with the latest medicine news.