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No difference between PPI prophylaxis, placebo for GI bleeding

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PPI should be reserved for the “seriously ill”

“The take-home message from this trial is that, given the low incidence of clinically important upper gastrointestinal bleeding in the ICU, prophylaxis with a PPI [proton pump inhibitor], if initiated, should be reserved for seriously ill patients who are at high risk for this complication,” wrote Alan Barkun, MD, CM, of McGill University, Montreal, and Marc Bardou, MD, PhD, of the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Dijon–Bourgogne (France), in an editorial published with the study.

Though 90-day mortality was similar between groups in this trial, “the between-group difference in the rate of important upper gastrointestinal bleeding may still support the recommendation of using a prophylactic PPI” given the absence of a difference in the rate of adverse events between the two groups, they added.

Dr. Barkun reported no disclosures; Dr. Bardou reported support from the French Medicines Agency.



There was no significant difference in mortality between critically ill patients who received pantoprazole prophylaxis for gastrointestinal bleeding, and those who received placebo, new findings suggest.

In a multicenter, randomized trial of 3,298 adult patients at risk for gastrointestinal bleeding, 510 patients (31.1%) in the pantoprazole group and 499 (30.4%) in the placebo group had died at 90 days (relative risk, 1.02; 95% confidence interval, 0.91-1.13; P = .76). The results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Patients were aged 18 years or older; had been admitted to the ICU for an acute condition in one of six international centers; and had at least one risk factor for gastrointestinal bleeding including shock, use of anticoagulant agents, renal replacement therapy, mechanical ventilation (expected to last more than 24 hours), any history of liver disease, or any history of or ongoing coagulopathy. A total of 1,645 patients were randomly assigned to receive 40 mg of intravenous pantoprazole once daily and 1,653 received placebo, reported Mette Krag, MD, of the department of intensive care at Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen, and her coauthors.

The primary outcome was 90-day mortality. Secondary outcomes were clinically important events in the ICU, clinically important gastrointestinal bleeding in the ICU, infectious adverse events in the ICU, and days alive without the use of life support within the 90-day period.

One or more clinically important events occurred in 21.9% of patients in the pantoprazole group and in 22.6% in the placebo group (RR, 0.96; 95% CI, 0.83-1.11). In the pantoprazole group, 2.5% of patients had clinically important gastrointestinal bleeding, compared with 4.2% in the placebo group, Dr. Krag and her coauthors wrote.

The findings are similar to other recently published results, which showed “no significant differences ... in the rates of death or infectious complications between patients receiving placebo or no prophylaxis and those receiving proton pump inhibitors,” the authors wrote.

Dr. Krag reported financial support from Innovation Fund Denmark, Ehrenreich’s Foundation, and several other organizations.

SOURCE: Krag M et al. N Engl J Med. 2018 Dec 6. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1714919.

This article was updated 12/6/18.

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