by on May 1, 2012
Brand Names:Pepcid, Pepcid AC, Pepcid AC Maximum Strength, Pepcid RPD
Generic name:famotidine
Pregnancy Category:C
Half-life:2.5 - 4 hours

What is Famotidine?

Famotidine, which also has been marketed the brand names - Pepcid and Pepcidine, works to inhibit the production of stomach acid.  Another product called Pepcid Complete combines famotidine with an antacid to form a chewable tablet.

Unlike other H2 antagomists like cimetidine, Famotidine does not have an effect on the cytochrome P450 enzyme system.  H2 antagomists block the histamine receptors in the secretory cells of the stomach. Thus histamine cannot stimulate the production of stomach acid. The final result is a lower level of hydrochloric acid and the enzyme pepsin in the stomach.

In addition to its benefits for the stomach and gastrointestinal tract, famotidine has also been thought to decrease the effects of chronic heart failure, as it works to block histamine.

Famotidine is available in tablets, capsules, oral suspensions and injection solutions. The dose in a single tablet usually varies between 10 and 40 mg. Famotidine comes in different types of tablets – film-coated, chewable and orally disintegrating. In low doses (10-20mg tablets) famotidine is available as an over-the-counter medicine. Higher doses or injection solutions require a prescription.

Some of famotidine brands are:

  • Pepcid (by Johnson & Johnson/Merck)
  • Quamatel (by Gedeon Richter)
  • Fluxid (by Schwarz Pharma)

Famotidine Uses

pepcid famotidine

Famotidine is mainly used for the treatment of various conditions connected with excessive production of stomach acid. Some of these conditions are:

  • Stomach and duodenal ulcers – famotidine is used both during the episodes of exacerbation and during remissions as a prophylactic agent.
  • esophagitis- inflammation of the esophagus lining
  • gastritis –inflammation of the stomach lining
  • gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) – this is a condition in which a certain amount of stomach acid enters the esophagus and causes damage to it as well as a burning sensation. The stomach lining is resistant to the action of the hydrochloric acid but this is not the case with the esophagus. Normally, there is no acid there so even little amounts of it can cause damage to it and unpleasant sensations.
  • Conditions connected with pathological hypersecretion of stomach acid, such as Zollinger-Ellison syndrome – this is a serious medical condition in which pancreatic or intestinal tumors stimulate the excessive secretion of stomach acid.
  • Famotidine is also used for the prophylaxis of functional heartburn or heartburn due to dietary mistakes.

Famotidine is sometimes used prior to surgery to prevent the aspiration of stomach acid. In a combination with H1 blockers famotidine may be used in the treatment of urticaria – acute allergic reaction of the skin. Famotidine is often prescribed together with medicines that have an irritating effect on the stomach mucosa in order to prevent damaging of the mucosa.

Precautions when taking famotidine

  • Patients that are allergic to famotidine or any of the ingredients in the drug should not use it. There are studies showing cross sensitivity between different acid-reducing drugs. That’s why in case you are allergic to any other medicines of this group you should not use famotidine before consulting your healthcare provider.
  • Famotidine should be avoided by pregnant, breastfeeding women and children under twelve years old. Inform your physician in case you are suffering from kidney or liver insufficiency as adjustment of the dose may be necessary.
  • It is strongly advisable to consult your physician before starting treatment with famotidine as heartburn and indigestion can be symptoms of serious diseases.