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Inappropriate PPI scripts

Half of patients on proton pump inhibitors are prescribed the drugs inappropriately, researchers claim.

Their study of 271 patients admitted to a medical ward at a university hospital found a quarter were taking a PPI prescribed by their GP.

But 54 per cent did not have any of the indications for a PPI outlined in the NICE guidelines, reported the study in the latest issue of the Postgraduate Medical Journal. Two-thirds of these patients had no symptoms of dyspepsia and no history of actual or potential upper gastrointestinal problems.

Researchers said the data could mean guidelines were too restrictive or out of touch, or that GPs were prescribing PPIs as a 'lazy alternative' to taking a full history.

Study author Dr Jeremy Kingham, a consultant in general medicine with a special interest in gastroenterology at Singleton Hospital in Swansea, said: 'Too often PPIs are perceived as a harmless and relatively inexpensive remedy for any digestive problem, or as an essential protection against possible or theoretical drug problems a patient has yet to encounter.'

Dr George Rae, a member of the GPC prescribing subcommittee and a GP in Whitley Bay, Tyne and Wear, said: 'PPIs are a victim of their own success, and have been prescribed a lot more than in the past. They are very significant for alleviating symptoms.'

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