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H[2] blockers and alcohol

This article was originally published in The Tan Sheet

Executive Summary

H[2] blockers' effect on alcohol blood levels is called a "nonproblem" by Michael Levitt, MD, V-A Medical Center, Minneapolis, in an editorial in the April 1 Annals of Internal Medicine. Levitt's editorial accompanies a study by Jean-Pierre Raufman, et al., SUNY-Health Science Center, Brooklyn, that found that SmithKline Beecham's Tagamet (cimetidine), Merck's Pepcid (famotidine), Lilly's Axid (nizatidine), and Glaxo's Zantac (ranitidine) "do not alter serum ethanol levels" of "healthy nonalcoholic men" following "moderate alcohol consumption after an evening meal." The Raufman study was one of several reviewed by an FDA advisory committee March 12 that decided that H[2] blockers' effect on blood alcohol is not "clinically significant" ("The Tan Sheet" March 22, p. 4).
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