What You Should Know About Famotidine
What is Famotidine?
Conditions Famotidine Treats
The most common condition famotidine gets prescribed for is gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD is a condition where the acidic contents of your stomach come back up and burn your throat. This can be both uncomfortable and damaging to your throat and even lead to another condition called “erosive esophagitis”.
Erosive esophagitis is a condition where the refluxing acid GERD has caused damage to the sensitive lining of your throat. Though this can be treated, it’s best to treat GERD early on before it gets to this point.
Ulcers are another serious condition that famotidine is prescribed for. Ulcers are sores in your digestive system that can be very painful and dangerous. There is usually a thick lining of mucus covering the tissue in your stomach, so it doesn’t get damaged by the strong stomach acid, but sometimes the lining gets worn down. Without the protective layer, the acid in the stomach reaches the tissue below and causes damage in the form of a stomach (gastric) ulcer.
This kind of sore can also form in your duodenum, (the part of your digestive system that comes directly after your stomach) called a duodenal ulcer. This is a common place for ulcers to occur since it is the area where the now acidic food goes once it leaves your stomach.
Famotidine is also often prescribed to treat certain conditions that are caused by too much stomach acid being made. The previously mentioned conditions are not usually caused by an excess of acid, but more so are aggravated by the acid. Hypersecretory conditions, though, are any condition where the baseline amount of stomach acid your body creates is more than normal. This can lead to GERD, ulcers, and even bleeding in your digestive system.
How does Famotidine Work?
H2RAs are medications that work tothat gets made in response to food. Normally, a chemical called histamine gets released in your stomach and attaches to special stomach cells, called parietal cells, that then send a signal to release acid into the stomach.
H2RAs bind to these same parietal cell histamine receptors, but do not cause any signal for acid release. Since these H2RAs are attached to these receptors and they are now “occupied”, there are now less of these receptors available for histamine to attach to. This decreases the amount of acid release that histamine can signal for.
Since the acidity of the stomach is what causes the damage to your throat from GERD, decreasing the acidity gives your throat the opportunity to heal. Importantly, when taking famotidine, you still have enough stomach acid to digest your food, but not an excess amount to cause damaging reflux back into your throat.
Famotidine also has a similar purpose when treating ulcers. Though the ulcer itself is not caused by stomach acid, the acid chews away at the sore and makes it worse. So, taking some of the acid away allows your ulcer a chance to heal.
How Effective is Famotidine?
Famotidine is relatively effective in treating issues related to stomach acid. It is often the first medication tried but is not always as effective as medications called “proton pump inhibitors”. Proton pump inhibitors are considered more effective when used long-term. However, they do come with more risk as they are contraindicated while on many other medications and also have some long-term health risks. Your healthcare provider will decide which medication is best for you depending on your medical history and specific health condition.
Famotidine Side Effects
There are 4 most common side effects. Many patients do not develop any side effects while taking famotidine. However, there are four side effects that are seen most commonly.
Every patient responds slightly differently to every medication, so you may experience none, some, or all of the possible side effects. Talk to your healthcare provider about any changes you experience while taking famotidine and they will decide with you if it is right to continue with the medication.
Who Should Not Take Famotidine?
Patients on other medications or with other health conditions:
Famotidine is interesting because it does not have any significant drug-drug interactions. This means that famotidine shouldn’t affect the way that other drugs work in your body. That being said, it is still important to talk to your healthcare provider about any other medications, over-the-counter drugs, and natural health products you are taking.
More side effects from famotidine have been reported in. If you have any stage of kidney failure or kidney dysfunction, your healthcare provider will likely recommend you take famotidine less often and increase the amount of time between doses. Otherwise, it may also be an option to switch to another anti-acid medication, with the advice of your healthcare provider.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding:
Famotidine crosses from the mother’s blood to the fetus’ blood. Studies with animals have shown that it’s likely not a major risk to the fetus to take famotidine while pregnant. However, since there isn’t much human data on the possible risks,.
If you are taking famotidine and find out you are pregnant, speak with your healthcare provider about the possible risks vs. benefits of staying on this medication.
This drug crosses into the breastmilk, and while it isn’t thought to be very harmful to the baby, it’s best to avoid giving a baby any medication that he or she doesn’t need, even if it’s a small amount.
The Right Dose
The right dose for you is best decided by your healthcare provider. Both the dose and length of time you should take famotidine depends on the reason why you have been prescribed this medication. For GERD, famotidine is typically prescribed as one 20 mg tablet, twice per day, for 2–6 weeks. However, for duodenal ulcer maintenance therapy, this can be a different dose and you can be prescribed famotidine much longer or even indefinitely. Your healthcare provider will work with you to decide on the dose the duration of famotidine.
Famotidine vs. Pepcid
There is also a brand name version of famotidine, called “Pepcid”. The generic and brand name medications have the exact same medical ingredient: famotidine, and are considered equivalent by the FDA, meaning the brand and generic versions should affect patients the same way.
However, some patients still prefer being prescribed a brand name drug. Those patients often end up paying a huge mark-up in price. A one-month supply of 30 tablets of Pepcid would cost you anywhere from $427 to $983! This can be more than 160x the cost that you would pay for a month supply of generic famotidine at Marley Drug and is why we recommend patients take the generic version of famotidine.
Order Famotidine from Marley Drug
At other pharmacies, the price of a one-month supply (30 tablets) of generic famotidine can range from $28 to $79 depending on the dose. This is more than 4x the price you would pay at Marley Drug. This price also doubles if you are prescribed a dosing frequency of two tablets per day, which famotidine often is. This can be frustrating as the dose and dosing frequency that works for you may be double or triple the price of other available doses.
At Marley Drug you pay the exact same amount for famotidine regardless of strength or frequency.
Why are our prices so low? We price our medications based on what it costs us to buy them, not by what has been decided by your insurance price negotiators.
By getting our medications directly from accredited wholesalers we can cut out the insurance company middlemen (who usually pull up the costs of drugs with their arbitrary “service fees”). Because of this, our prices are competitive and often better than most insurance plans.
Why it’s Better for You to Fill a Longer Supply
For many conditions, healthcare providers prescribe famotidine for long-term use. Once you’re on a steady maintenance dose, filling a longer supply means you will have access to a consistent amount of medication without worrying about multiple trips to the pharmacy every few months. This also means you don’t have to pay the pharmacy fees every time you refill your prescription, which decreases your overall medication costs even more.
- Famotidine: generic Pepcid – GoodRx (https://www.goodrx.com). Accessed 2022-06-28.
- Pepcid (famotidine) – Access data FDA-Approved Drugs [Internet]. 1986 [amended 06/2011; accessed 06/2022].]
- Prices mentioned in this article are based on average retail price at major box chain pharmacy in the U.S. as of June 28, 2022
- Zhang, Y. (2015). Proton pump inhibitors therapy vs H2 receptor antagonists therapy for upper gastrointestinal bleeding after endoscopy: A meta-analysis. World Journal Of Gastroenterology, 21(20), 6341. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v21.i20.6341
Prices mentioned in this article are based on average retail price at major box chain pharmacy in the U.S. as of June 28, 2022