Omeprazole (brand name Prilosec) is a proton-pump inhibitor that works by decreasing the amount of acid made in the stomach. It is used alone or with other medications to treat acid reflux, a condition in which acid from the stomach rises to the esophagus, causing heartburn and possible injury.

Acid reflux is common in up to 90% of people with pulmonary fibrosis and represents a risk factor for aspiration, which may cause lung problems and may worsen pulmonary fibrosis.

Omeprazole should not be used for immediate relief of heartburn symptoms.

It is taken orally, usually at least one hour before meals. Omeprazole’s most frequent side effects are stomach pain, gas, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or headache.

The American Thoracic Society’s guidelines for pulmonary fibrosis suggest that clinicians recommend regular antiacid treatment for people with pulmonary fibrosis, as it may have greater value in possibly improving lung function and survival, in addition to the low cost of therapy.

Omeprazole research in pulmonary fibrosis

A pilot clinical trial study in pulmonary fibrosis is ongoing (NCT02085018). It is expected that omeprazole reduces cough in people with pulmonary fibrosis because reflux of stomach acid contributes to coughing in pulmonary fibrosis. The objective of this study is to determine if it reduces cough in these patients. Sixty participants will take either three months of omeprazole or placebo. Primary objectives of the study include the change in cough frequency during 90 days, but other measurements also will be assessed, such as lung function, symptoms, reflux and lung inflammation.

The study is being sponsored by Newcastle-upon-Tyne Hospitals in the United Kingdom.