Anti-ulcer drugs are effective in suppressing acid-related gastrointestinal disorders, but mechanistic animal experiments and observational human studies suggest they also promote allergic disease. At a population level, the relationship between gastric acid inhibitors and incidence of allergy has not yet been determined. A recent Austrian study examining health insurance data from 97% of the 2009-2013 Austrian population has found that the rate ratios for prescription of anti-allergic medications after prescription of gastric acid inhibitors were 1.96 (95% CI: 1.95-1.97) and 3.07 (95% CI: 2.89-3.27), in overall and regional datasets respectively. The results were consistent across all gastric acid inhibitors tested and were more marked in women, with the rate ratios increasing from 1.47 (95% CI: 1.45-1.49) in subjects younger than 20 to 5.20 (95% CI:5.15-5.25) in subjects older than 60. The study, which can be viewed here, suggests that an epidemiological connection exists between the use of anti-ulcer drugs and occurrence of allergic symptoms.

Contributed by Australian Medication Safety Services Associate – Isabella Singh