Adverse effects reported in patients taking cimetidine are described below by body system. Incidence figures of 1 in 100 and greater are generally derived from controlled clinical studies.
The collection of this information has been derived largely from trials associated with oral cimetidine.
Gastrointestinal: Diarrhea (usually mild) has been reported in approximately 1 in 100 patients.
CNS: Headaches, ranging from mild to severe, have been reported in 3.5% of 924 patients taking 1600 mg/day, 2.1% of 2,225 patients taking 800 mg/day and 2.3% of 1,897 patients taking placebo. Dizziness and somnolence (usually mild) have been reported in approximately 1 in 100 patients on either 1600 mg/day or 800 mg/day.
Reversible confusional states, e.g., mental confusion, agitation, psychosis, depression, anxiety, hallucinations, disorientation, have been reported predominantly, but not exclusively, in severely ill patients. They have usually developed within 2 to 3 days of initiation of cimetidine therapy and have cleared within 3 to 4 days of discontinuation of the drug.
Endocrine: Gynecomastia has been reported in patients treated for one month or longer. In patients being treated for pathological hypersecretory states, this occurred in about 4% of cases while in all others the incidence was 0.3% to 1% in various studies. No evidence of induced endocrine dysfunction was found, and the condition remained unchanged or returned toward normal with continuing cimetidine treatment.
Reversible impotence has been reported in patients with pathological hypersecretory disorders, e.g., Zollinger−Ellison Syndrome, receiving cimetidine particularly in high doses, for at least 12 months (range 12 to 79 months, mean 38 months). However, in large-scale surveillance studies at regular dosage, the incidence has not exceeded that commonly reported in the general population.
Hematologic: Decreased white blood cell counts in cimetidine-treated patients (approximately 1 per 100,000 patients), including agranulocytosis (approximately 3 per million patients), have been reported, including a few reports of recurrence on rechallenge. Most of these reports were in patients who had serious concomitant illnesses and received drugs and/or treatment known to produce neutropenia. Thrombocytopenia (approximately 3 per million patients) and, very rarely, cases of pancytopenia or aplastic anemia have also been reported. As with some other H2 receptor antagonists, there have been extremely rare reports of immune hemolytic anemia.
Hepatobiliary: Dose-related increases in serum transaminase have been reported. In most cases they did not progress with continued therapy and returned to normal at the end of therapy. There have been rare reports of cholestatic or mixed cholestatic hepatocellular effects. These were usually reversible. Because of the predominance of cholestatic features, severe parenchymal injury is considered highly unlikely. However, as in the occasional liver injury with other H2-receptor antagonists, in exceedingly rare circumstances fatal outcomes have been reported.
There has been reported a single case of biopsy-proven periportal hepatic fibrosis in a patient receiving cimetidine.
Rare cases of pancreatitis, which cleared on withdrawal of the drug, have been reported.
Hypersensitivity: Rare cases of fever and allergic reactions including anaphylaxis and hypersensitivity vasculitis, which cleared on withdrawal of the drug, have been reported.
Renal: Small, possibly dose-related increases in plasma creatinine, presumably due to competition for renal tubular secretion, are not uncommon and do not signify deteriorating renal function. Rare cases of interstitial nephritis and urinary retention, which cleared on withdrawal of the drug, have been reported.
Cardiovascular: Rare cases of bradycardia, tachycardia and A-V heart block have been reported with H2-receptor antagonists.
Musculoskeletal: There have been rare reports of reversible arthralgia and myalgia; exacerbation of joint symptoms in patients with preexisting arthritis has also been reported. Such symptoms have usually been alleviated by a reduction in cimetidine dosage. Rare cases of polymyositis have been reported, but no causal relationship has been established.
Integumental: Mild rash and, very rarely, cases of severe generalized skin reactions including Stevens-Johnson syndrome, epidermal necrolysis, erythema multiforme, exfoliative dermatitis and generalized exfoliative erythroderma have been reported with H2-receptor antagonists. Reversible alopecia has been reported very rarely.
Immune Function: There have been extremely rare reports of strongyloidiasis hyperinfection in immunocompromised patients.