As the potential dangers of proton pump inhibitor drugs—such as Prilosec,
Prevacid and Nexium—continue to come to the light, the most recent
study has shown an increased risk of chronic kidney disease among those
taking PPI drugs for extended periods of time. PPI drugs were never intended
to become a daily pill for Americans – in fact, when the drugs were
first approved by the FDA, it was recommended that they be taken for no
longer than six weeks. Despite this, it is not uncommon to find people
who have been taking PPI drugs for months, years, or even as long as two decades.
PPI Drugs Never Intended for Daily Heartburn
PPI drugs were also not intended for “casual” use by those
with heartburn. Rather, they were approved for those with true gastroesophageal
reflux disease (GERD). GERD patients have a weakness in the muscle between
the esophagus and the stomach, causing stomach acids to chronically rise
into the esophagus. For patients who have significant inflammation in
the esophagus, or a stomach ulcer, PPI drugs can be helpful in allowing
those issues to heal. However, the use of PPI drugs has gone far beyond
those with these true medical issues.
Additional Risks Associated with PPI Drugs
More than 15 million Americans used prescription and over-the-counter PPI
drugs in 2013, to the tune of more than $10 billion. For many of those
millions, PPI drugs were recommended by their doctor, and few people had
any reason to think the drugs could be unsafe until research showed that
those taking PPI drugs on a regular basis could be at a greater risk for
heart disease. Next, a study showed PPIs could potentially increase the
risk for dementia by up to 44 percent for those who routinely took PPI
drugs compared to those who did not take the drugs.
The studies regarding dementia and PPI drugs showed the drugs increased
the levels of a damaging protein known as beta-amyloid, which accumulates
in the brains of dementia patients. PPI drugs block the production of
stomach acid, which not only helps digest food, but also has a barrier
function against different ingested pathogens. This means that when there
is less stomach acid in the body, vulnerability to nutritional deficiencies
and infections increases. In particular, a sometimes life-threatening
digestive system infection known as Clostridium difficile and pneumonia
seem to occur more often among those taking PPI drugs.
Study Linking PPI Use with Kidney Disease
The latest research linking PPI drugs and chronic kidney disease used data
from 248,751 patients, who were divided into two groups: those taking
PPI drugs and those who did not. Patients were followed for a median period
of 13.9 years. It was noted that PPI users were more often white, obese,
and that they typically also took medications for high blood pressure.
The estimated risk of a patient taking PPI drugs and subsequently developing
chronic kidney disease was 11.8 percent, while the estimated risk was
8.5 percent among the group who did not use PPI drugs.
Discontinuing PPI Drugs Not as Easy as it Would Seem
In addition to an increased risk of heart disease, dementia, and kidney
disease, taking PPI drugs on a regular basis inhibits the absorption of
nutrients, promotes an overgrowth of bacteria, reduces resistance to infection,
and may even increase the risk of cancer. Unfortunately, simply discontinuing
the use of PPI drugs is not as easy as it might seem, particularly for
those who have been taking the drugs for a significant length of time.
Many of those who perhaps heard of the potential risks and decided to
stop taking the drugs cold turkey lived to regret that decision.
When a person has been taking PPI drugs for a significant length of time
and then suddenly stops, a huge surge of stomach acid can result, causing
such serious symptoms that the patient ends up in the emergency room.
There is a protocol for patients who wish to wean themselves off PPI drugs,
and it includes doing so very gradually. PPI drugs can eventually be replaced
with less dangerous heartburn medications including Zantac and other H2
receptor blockers, however, heartburn should ideally be controlled with
diet and exercise since both H2 receptor blockers as well as PPI drugs
can inhibit the absorption of nutrients.
Contact Our National Dangerous Drug Lawyers
For 30 years, our experienced litigation team has successfully represented
patients and their families across the United States in their quest for
justice. When a dangerous drug harms you or your family, the lawyers at
Golomb & Honik, P.C. are prepared to fight aggressively to hold the
irresponsible and negligent pharmaceutical company responsible.
To learn more about your legal options or to
schedule a free consultation, call the Philadelphia dangerous drug lawyers at Golomb & Honik, P.C. today at
(215) 278-4449. We proudly assist clients in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and nationwide.