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October 8, 1982

H2 antagonists: long-term ulcer therapy?

JAMA. 1982;248(14):1683-1685. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03330140007003

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Accumulated worldwide experience with histamine receptor antagonists (H2 antagonists), presented at this year's World Congress of Gastroenterology in Stockholm, shows convincingly that these drugs are effective for more than short-term treatment of duodenal ulcer. Both cimetidine and the new, more specific H2 antagonist ranitidine heal 80% to 90% of both duodenal and gastric ulcers. More important, continuous administration of these agents keeps most ulcers—of both types—healed for at least 12 to 18 months, the longest study periods reported yet.

As many as 10% of the population of industrialized countries may suffer either duodenal or gastric ulcer at some time during their lives. So it is not surprising that the first pharmacologically specific H2 antagonist approved for peptic ulcer, cimetidine, became one of the top two or three best-selling prescription agents in the United States within a few years of its introduction in 1977.

It was equally inevitable