Patients 'denied drugs to stop ulcers recurring'

NINE OUT of ten patients with duodenal ulcers are being denied the treatment most likely to prevent relapse, specialists in stomach diseases will be told today. The same treatment might also reduce the risk of stomach cancer.

Researchers say there is evidence that a common stomach infection called Helicobacter pylori (Hp) must be destroyed to prevent the ulcers returning, which they do in 90 per cent of cases. The findings could save the NHS millions of pounds. About one in ten people have ulcers at some time in their lives and receive drugs for them. But most ulcers recur so treatment is repeated. Many patients take drugs on repeat prescriptions.

But Dr Kenneth McColl, a consultant gastroenterologist, says patients should be given a three-week course of two antibiotics to kill the Hp and an ulcer drug. When this is done relapse is rare. Dr McColl is presenting his findings to the British Society of Gastroenterology meeting in Manchester, this week.