Many people who go to the doctor with stomach complaints are wrongly prescribed gastric acid inhibitors for a long time, according to research by Radboudumc, among others, at about 300 general practices.
In almost 9 out of 10 cases, antacids are prescribed long-term without medical indication. According to the research, this concerns 88 percent of the patients.
The research focuses on the prescription of medicines by general practitioners for three types of complaints: antibiotics for eye inflammation, muscle relaxants for low back pain and antacids for stomach complaints.
Only 3 percent of people with lower back pain are given muscle relaxants without indication. In people with eye inflammation, the distribution is about 50-50. The results of the study have been published in the scientific journal British Journal of General Practice.
‘Masking real problems’
According to the researchers, antacids hide the real causes of the complaints. These are often related to an unhealthy lifestyle, such as being overweight, excessive alcohol consumption or poor nutrition. This makes tackling the problem complex.
“There are alternatives, such as painkillers, for prescribing muscle relaxants for low back pain,” say researchers Tijn Kool and Simone van Dulmen of Radboudumc. “And there is the advice: you have to move. With antacids, the key is often a different lifestyle or a different diet. That takes a long breath, because something like that has not changed overnight.”
Jako Burgers, who is a general practitioner involved in the study, also says: “It masks antacids, while the body does send signals.” According to him, general practitioners, pharmacists and patients should be more alert and ask themselves more often whether the drug is really necessary. “It is very tempting to prescribe it again if it has worked well,” he says in the NOS Radio 1 News† “It is important that good information is given, because it is often not necessary.”
The Radboud researchers also believe that things should be done differently. “This figure is just high. That’s why we say, we have to look at this together with general practitioners, pharmacists and patients.”
One countryside and a online tool on thuisarts.nl aimed at patients, should help with this. The National Health Care Institute previously presented a “improvement report”intended to improve care for people with stomach problems.