sucralfate, Carafate

Pharmacy Author:
Medical and Pharmacy Editor:

GENERIC NAME: sucralfate

BRAND NAME: Carafate

DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Sucralfate is a unique oral drug that is used for treating ulcers of the upper gastrointestinal tract. Chemically, it is a complex of the disaccharide sugar, sucrose, combined with sulfate and aluminum. It is minimally absorbed into the body, and its actions are entirely on the lining of the stomach and duodenum. Although its mechanism of action is not entirely understood, the following actions are thought to be important for its beneficial effects:

  1. sucralfate binds to the surface of ulcers (attaching to exposed proteins) and coats the ulcer, thus protecting the ulcer surface to some extent from further injury by acid and pepsin;
  2. sucralfate directly inhibits pepsin (an enzyme that breaks apart proteins) in the presence of stomach acid;
  3. sucralfate binds bile salts coming from the liver via the bile thus protecting the stomach lining from injury caused by the bile acids;
  4. sucralfate may increase prostaglandin production, and prostaglandins are known to protect the lining of the stomach.

Sucralfate was approved by the FDA in 1981.



PREPARATIONS: Tablets: 1 g; Suspension: 500 mg/5ml.

STORAGE: Tablets and suspension should be kept at room temperature, between 15-30 C (59-86 F). The suspension should not be frozen and should be shaken prior to each use.

PRESCRIBED FOR: Sucralfate is used for the treatment of peptic ulcer disease and to prevent recurrent ulcers after healing of the ulcer has been achieved. It also has been used to relieve or prevent ulcers caused by nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) but is less effective than misoprostol (Cytotec). Sucralfate also is used in the treatment of patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and to prevent ulcers associated with high degrees of physical stress (for example, extensive burns, surgery, and overwhelming infection) in hospitalized patients.

DOSING: The recommended dose for treatment of active ulcers is 1 gram four times daily for 4-8 weeks. Sucralfate is administered on an empty stomach, at least one hour prior to meals, for best results. The dose for preventing recurrent ulcers is 1 gram twice daily.

DRUG INTERACTIONS: When administered with other drugs sucralfate may bind to the drugs in the stomach and reduce absorption of the drugs. Sucralfate reduces the absorption of cimetidine (Tagamet), digoxin (Lanoxin), ketoconazole (Nizoral), levothyroxine (Synthroid), phenytoin (Dilantin), quinidine (Quinidex, Quinaglute), ranitidine (Zantac), tetracycline, theophylline (Theo-Dur, Uniphyl, others), and all of the fluoroquinolone antibiotics, including ciprofloxacin (Cipro), norfloxacin (Noroxin), ofloxacin (Floxin), and lomefloxacin (Maxaquin). All of these medications should be taken at least two hours prior to the sucralfate.

It is possible, if not likely, that many other drugs will interact similarly with sucralfate. Therefore, it probably is prudent to take all medications at least 2 hours prior to sucralfate.

Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Pill Finder Tool

Need help identifying pills and medications?
Use the pill identifier tool on RxList.

Back to Medications Index