Treatment with AstraZeneca’s Nexium (esomeprazole) is effective for relieving upper-abdominal symptoms in patients with non-gastroesophageal reflux disease dyspepsia, according to the latest clinical findings, presented at the World Congress of Gastroenterology.

Results from the study, the first of its kind to evaluate the effect of proton pump inhibitor therapy on non-GERD dyspepsia, found that treatment with Nexium induced a significantly higher overall response rate than placebo (p<0.001); 47.3% of the Nexium group responded at eight weeks therapy versus 33.7% in the control group.

In addition, data from the trial demonstrate that 62.7% of uninvestigated non-GERD dyspepsia patients who had a positive response to a one-week acid-suppression trial of Nexium experienced complete improvement in their symptoms after a further seven weeks of therapy with the agent, compared to 47.2% receiving a placebo (p<0.05). This suggests that a one-week AST evaluation could help predict whether patients will respond after eight weeks of treatment, the group noted.

Commenting on the findings, Professor Sander Van Zanten from Dalhousie University, Canada, said that they provide convincing evidence that a substantial proportion of non-GERD dyspepsia sufferers will respond to acid suppression therapy with the drug. “Many primary care patients who present with upper-abdominal symptoms such as epigastric pain or burning are not referred for further investigation and there has been much uncertainty whether they will respond to treatment with a proton pump inhibitor. These results support the use of Nexium for managing patients with dyspepsia and provide physicians with the evidence for treating this difficult to treat patient population,” he stated.

Nexium is a well-established treatment for gastroesophageal reflux disease, which is forecast to generate peak annual sales of $3.5. A new indication for the treatment of dyspepsia, a very common complaint and therefore a significant economic burden, estimated to be around £1 billion a year, would spur the drug’s already robust growth further.