- BACKGROUND: Following initial healing of erosive oesophagitis, most patients require maintenance therapy to prevent relapse. AIM: To compare endoscopic and symptomatic remission rates over 6 months' maintenance therapy with esomeprazole or pantoprazole (both 20 mg once daily) in patients with healed erosive oesophagitis. METHODS: Patients with symptoms of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease and endoscopically confirmed erosive oesophagitis at baseline were randomized to receive esomeprazole 40 mg or pantoprazole 40 mg for up to 8 weeks. Patients with healed erosive oesophagitis and free of moderate/severe heartburn and acid regurgitation at 4 weeks or, if necessary, 8 weeks entered the 6-month maintenance therapy phase of the study. RESULTS: A total of 2766 patients (63% men; mean age 50 years) received esomeprazole 20 mg (n = 1377) or pantoprazole 20 mg (n = 1389) and comprised the intention-to-treat population. Following 6 months of treatment, the proportion of patients in endoscopic and symptomatic remission was significantly greater for those receiving esomeprazole 20 mg (87.0%) than pantoprazole 20 mg (74.9%, log-rank test P < 0.0001). Esomeprazole 20 mg produced a higher proportion of patients free of moderate to severe gastro-oesophageal reflux disease symptoms and fewer discontinuations because of symptoms than pantoprazole 20 mg (92.2% vs. 88.5%, P < 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: Esomeprazole 20 mg is more effective than pantoprazole 20 mg for maintenance therapy following initial healing of erosive oesophagitis and relief of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease symptoms.