What is Tagamet?
Tagamet is a brand name drug, distributed by GlaxoSmithKline, containing the active ingredient cimetidine. Prescription Tagamet (Tagamet Rx) is used to prevent or treat GERD, duodenal ulcers, or similar conditions resulting from overproduction of stomach acid. Additionally, over the counter Tagamet (Tagamet HB) has been available since 1999, and is used for the prevention and treatment of heartburn.
Tagamet Rx is often prescribed in 300 or 400 mg doses or even intravenously, while Tagamet HB is available in 200 mg tablets.
How does Tagamet work?
In both prescription and over the counter forms, Tagamet's active ingredient, cimetidine, acts as a Histamine H2 receptor antagonist. Histamine is a naturally occurring protein that plays several roles in the body. Normally, when histamine binds to H2 receptors, it increases acid production in the stomach. Cimetidine impedes this process because it binds to these same H2 receptors, but does not increase acid secretion. When an H2 receptor is bound to cimetidine, the receptor cannot be stimulated by histamine to secrete acid.
Studies have shown that Tagamet Rx and Tagamet HB are effective means of preventing and treating GERD, duodenal ulcers and heartburn. One 1996 study monitoring GERD patients who were administered cimetidine (800 mg doses) found healing rates of 37% (4 weeks), 52% (8 weeks), and 68% (12 weeks). (McCarty et al, 1996) Other studies have shown that Tagamet HB successfully provides immediate and multi-hour relief against symptoms of heartburn. (Thomson et al, 1999)
Warnings and Precautions when taking Tagamet
Tagamet should not be used by anyone who is allergic or hypersensitive to the medication. People with stomach cancer may experience symptom relief while taking Tagamet. Pregnant women should use Tagamet only if the drug is clearly needed. Consultation with a physician is recommended. Nursing women should not use Tagamet. Tagamet may cause confusion in older patients. It may interact with many other drugs and patients should consult their physician.
Although side effects are rare, the following conditions have been associated with use of Tagamet: Headache; Dizziness; Constipation; Diarrhea; Muscle pain; Drowsiness, Breast enlargement and soreness; Mental confusion; Skin rash; Itching; Hives; and Difficulty breathing.
Who should use Tagamet?
Tagamet Rx may be prescribed by a doctor to generate relief from
GERD, gastric ulcers, or similar conditions involving overproduction
of stomach acid. Tagamet HB can be taken to achieve immediate relief
from heartburn or acid indigestion or up to 30 minutes prior to
eating as a preventative measure. Tagamet HB is taken orally with
a glass of water as needed, but not to exceed two tablets in 24
Frequently asked questions about Tagament
How much Tagamet should I take?
In over the counter strength, Tagamet is generally provided in 200
mg tablets to prevent heartburn. One tablet is taken at a time,
either as a preventative measure or to alleviate acid indigestion.
No more than 2 tablets (400 mg total) should be taken in one day
to treat heartburn. Unless ordered by a doctor, Tagamet HB should
not be taken longer than two weeks.
In some cases, a doctor may proscribe a higher or more frequent
dose of Tagamet to address other conditions in which the stomach
produces too much acid. Such programs often involve 300 or 400 mg
doses, for periods of 4, 8 or more weeks.
How should I take Tagamet?
Tagamet HB should be taken with a full glass of water, either before
eating (to prevent heartburn) or as soon as symptoms result (to
treat heartburn). Patients taking Tagamet Rx are usually advised
to take it in the morning if only one dose, in the morning and at
bedtime for two doses, or at meals and at bedtime for multiple doses.
Will I get heartburn during the weeks I'm taking Tagamet?
Variability among individuals means that Tagamet may not be effective for everyone. If Tagamet (HB or Rx) is not effective, a doctor should be consulted.