The Common Drugs you must always take On an Empty Stomach and their effects

Credit: Vocatin

A lot of people are used to the concept of taking drugs after meal. Most people basically assume all drugs are to be taken with/after food. However, there are some drugs that are best taken on empty stomach. While taking such drugs with food may not have any harmful effect, the absorption and therapeutic efficacy can be significantly affected.

To take a drug on empty stomach generally implies it should be taken one hour before meal or two hours after meal. Your stomach is believed to have emptied its content at this two periods.

                                                         Empty stomach

“Empty stomach” may also be used interchangeably with “before meals”.

Below is a list of 7drugs that are best taken on empty stomach…..

   1. Omeprazole

Omeprazole belongs to the class of drugs called proton pump inhibitors. It suppresses gastric acid secretion by blocking the acid pump (H+, K+ ATPase enzyme system), thus allowing for healing of the ulcer and eventually disappearance of the stomach pain. It is indicated in the treatment of conditions such heartburns, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GORD), stress ulceration, gastric and duodenal ulcers, Zollinger-Ellison syndrome and other acid related disorder.

The bioavailability (absorption) of this drug is decreased if not taken before meals. For optimum efficacy, take Omeprazole 30minutes before meals.

Other examples of drugs in this class include lansoprazole, rabeprazole, esomeprazole etc

  1. Loratadine

Loratadine is an antihistamine usually used to relief the symptoms associated with allergic conditions such as ocular itching and burning, nasal discharge and itching, sneezing and allergic dermatologic disorder. Loratadine is non-sedative as compared to other anti-allergic drugs. It is best absorbed if taken on empty stomach.

  1. Cotrimoxazole (Sulfamethoxazole+Trimethoprim)

Popularly known as Septrin, these combinations exhibit the activity of, and the synergy between two agents. The individual components are bacteriostatic, while the combination is often bactericidal. Cotrimoxazole is indicated in the treatment of urinary tract infections, respiratory tract infections, skin infections, and other infections sensitive to it.

Septrin is best taken on empty stomach with a full glass of water. If it causes stomach upset, kindly take with food.

4. Tetracycline

Popularly known as the red and yellow capsule, Tetracyclines are broad spectrum antibiotics and are bacteriostatic. They should be avoided in young children because it can cause permanent discoloration of the teeth. They are indicated in treatment of infections of the ear, nose and throat, liver, respiratory and gastrointestinal tract, etc. The absorption of tetracycline is reduced approximately by 50% when taken with food.

You are advised to swallow the capsule whole on empty stomach with adequate amounts of fluid, while sitting or standing.

However, note that doxycycline and minocycline (other examples of tetracyclines) are better absorbed and may be taken with food.


  1. Halofantrine

Halofantrine popularly known as halfan, is an antimalarial agent. Though complete dose of halfan is taken within a day (every 6hours- 3doses), halfan is a curative antimalarial therapy and should not be used as prophylactic.

Food enhances the absorption of halofantrine. The absorption is increased approximately by six-folds when taken with fatty meal. This should not be used as a method of enhancing absorption, may increase the incidence of adverse effects. As such, it is recommended that Halfan should be taken on empty stomach, and fatty food should be avoided 24hours after.


  1. Captopril

Captopril is an antihypertensive of Angiotensin Converting Enzyme (ACE) inhibitor class.

It is indicated in the management of raised blood pressure, treatment of congestive heart failure, hypertensive crisis, diabetic nephropathy, etc.

The absorption of Captopril is decreased by 30-40% when taken with food. You are advised to take this medication on empty stomach.

  1. Ampicillin

Ampicillin is a penicillin antibiotic, indicated in the treatment of several bacteria infections.

While the Amoxicillin counterpart isn’t affected by food, absorption of Ampicillin can be significantly reduced by food.

Take Ampicillin capsule on empty stomach with a full glass of water. Ensure you use the full course of this drug to clear up the infection completely, even if you feel better within few days of administration.



  1. EMDEX Vol 1: June 2016 – May 2017 Edition.
  2. Drugs profile ;  Accessed 24/10/16

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