Also Known As: Sucralfate, Carafate

Sucralfate is a cytoprotective agent, an oral gastrointestinal medication primarily indicated for the treatment of active duodenal ulcers. Brand names include Sucramal in Italy; Carafate in U.S.A.; Pepsigard, Sucral, Sucrafil, Hapifate in India; Sutra or Musin in parts of South-East Asia; Sulcrate in Canada; Ulsanic in South Africa and Israel; and Antepsin in Turkey. Sucralfate is also used for the treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and stress ulcers. Unlike the other classes of medications used for treatment of peptic ulcers, sucralfate is a sucrose sulfate-aluminium complex that binds to the mucosa, thus creating a physical barrier that impairs diffusion of hydrochloric acid in the gastrointestinal tract and prevents degradation of mucus by acid. It also stimulates bicarbonate output and acts like an acid buffer with cytoprotective properties. Sucralfate was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1981.

Sucralfate is a locally acting substance that in an acidic environment (pH < 4) reacts with hydrochloric acid in the stomach to form a cross-linking, viscous, paste-like material capable of acting as an acid buffer for as long as 6 to 8 hours after a single dose. It also attaches to proteins on the surface of ulcers, such as albumin and fibrinogen, to form stable insoluble complexes. These complexes serve as protective barriers at the ulcer surface, preventing further damage from acid, pepsin, and bile. In addition, it prevents back diffusion of hydrogen ions, and adsorbs both pepsin and bile acids. Recently, it has been indicated that sucralfate also stimulates the increase of prostaglandin E2, epidermal growth factors (EGF), bFGF, and gastric mucus.

The only FDA-approved indication for sucralfate is for the treatment of active duodenal ulcers not related to NSAID usage because the mechanism behind these ulcers is secondary to acid oversecretion. It is not technically approved for gastric ulcers because the main mechanism is not due to acid oversecretion but rather from diminished protection. The use for sucralfate in peptic ulcer disease has diminished recently, but it is still the preferred agent for stress ulcer prophylaxis.

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