Meds and you

Updated 11 February 2013

Famotidine

Famotidine is prescribed to treat ulcers of the stomach and duodenum, the first part of the small intestine that connects to the stomach.

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Famotidine used to be available under the brand name Pepcid. It is currently unavailable in South Africa.

General information

Famotidine is prescribed to treat ulcers of the stomach and duodenum, the first part of the small intestine that connects to the stomach. It is effective in treating gastro oesophageal reflux, the backward flow of stomach acid contents into the oesophagus, the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach. Famotidine is furthermore prescribed for patients with Zollinger-Ellison syndrome, a rare condition associated with a tumour that creates high levels of stomach acid secretion.

Famotidine may interact with liver enzymes responsible for breaking down various other medications. Because of this, levels of these medications may reach toxic levels in the body, causing a variety of side effects. If you are taking any other medication, consult your doctor or pharmacist before combining it with famotidine.

How does it work?

Famotidine blocks the release of stomach acid by binding to histamine receptors in the cells of the stomach wall. By reducing levels of gastric acid, it promotes healing of ulcers and acid-related inflammation. Famotidine also blocks the synthesis of the digestive enzyme pepsin, which together with gastric acid, causes duodenal ulceration.

Fast facts

Drug schedule: Currently unavailable in South Africa

What does it do? Famotidine has an acid-reducing effect in the stomach

Overdose risk: Low

Dependence risk: Low

Available as a generic? No

Available on prescription only? Currently unavailable in South Africa

User information

Dietary advice: Avoid foods that cause irritation of the stomach such as citrus fruit and juice, caffeine and carbonated drinks.

Stopping: Do not discontinue this medication without consulting your doctor, even if you begin to feel better. Symptoms may recur with premature stoppage.

Prolonged use: Famotidine is not generally used for longer than two months continuously. Only continue for longer on the advice of your doctor.

Special precautions

Consult your doctor before using this drug if:

  • you are allergic to famotidine or similar drugs
  • you have kidney or liver disease
  • you are taking other medication

Pregnancy: Avoid. It is unknown how this medication may affect your baby. Consult your doctor before using this drug, or if you are planning to fall pregnant

Breastfeeding: Avoid. It is unknown how this medication may affect your baby. Consult your doctor before use.

Porphyria: Avoid. This medication may cause serious adverse effects. Consult your doctor before use.

Infants and children: Safety and efficacy of this medication has not been established for children under the age of 16.

Elderly: Caution is advised in the elderly as adverse reactions may be more likely; a reduced dose may be needed.

Driving and hazardous work: Caution is advised, as use of this medication may lead to dizziness and/or lightheadedness. Avoid such activities until you know it affects you.

Alcohol: Avoid, as alcohol may aggravate the condition being treated

Possible side effects

Side effect

Frequency

Consult your doctor

Common

Rare

Only if severe

In all cases

Headache

x

x

Fatigue

x

x

Dizziness / drowsiness

x

x

Nausea / vomiting

x

x

Abdominal pain / diarrhoea

x

x

Blurred vision

x

x

Decreased libido

x

x

Swelling of breasts (men)

x

x

Hallucinations

x

x

Depression

x

x

Insomnia

x

x

Skin rash / irritation

x

x

Heart palpitations

x

x

Fever / chills

x

x

Unusual bruising

x

x

Interactions

Drug interactions

Antacids

Reduced effect of famotidine. Separate doses by 2 hours

Probenecid

Reduced effect of famotidine.

Theophylline

Increase risk of drug toxicity

Food interactions

Avoid foods that cause irritation of the stomach such as citrus fruit and juice, caffeine and carbonated drinks.

Overdose action

A small overdose is no cause for concern. In case of intentional large overdose, seek emergency medical attention.

Recommended dosage

This drug is currently unavailable in South Africa.

Interesting fact

Smoking may increase stomach acid secretion and should preferably be stopped before treatment starts.

This material is not intended to substitute medical advice, but is for informational purposes only. Please consult a physician for specific treatment and recommendations.

 

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