Approximately 15 million Americans use proton pump inhibitor (PPI) medications to treat heartburn, a condition in which acid from the stomach travels into the esophagus.
Unfortunately, a new study has linked long-term use of PPI drugs such as Prevacid, Nexium and Prilosec to a higher risk of damage to the kidneys.
The study, published in Kidney International, examined 125,596 PPI users over a five-year period. These patients were found to be at a higher risk for sustaining acute kidney injury and developing chronic kidney disease than patients using H2 blockers to treat heartburn. Common over-the-counter H2 blockers include Zantac and Pepcid.
Unfortunately, patients with certain kidney problems may not display symptoms. For example, chronic kidney disease does not display symptoms until it has progressed to a dangerous point.
Fortunately, patients suffering from heartburn or acid reflux can prevent it without medication and reduce the risk of kidney damage.
Experts advise patients to avoid overeating and fatty foods, which can weaken the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which helps prevent acid backwash. Alcohol and tobacco use can also weaken the LES and should be avoided.
CBS News contacted the manufacturers of popular PPI medications, including Pfizer (Nexium), Takeda Pharmaceutical Company (Prevacid) and Proctor & Gamble (Prilosec), about the study. Pfizer referred CBS News to the Consumer Healthcare Productions Association (CHPA), which provided a statement about over-the-counter PPI medications.
The statement notes that the study focuses only on the prescription strength medications, rather than those sold over-the-counter. Nexium, Prevacid, and Prilosec all have over-the-counter versions with lower dosages.
The CHPA statement also notes that these medications are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and available safety data on these drugs does not warrant a change in clinical practice guidelines.
The statement advises patients to follow OTC Drug Facts labels closely to ensure the drug is appropriate for their symptoms. This also helps ensure proper dosage and prevents dangerous drug interactions.
If you have been diagnosed with kidney damage caused by your use of PPI drugs, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Contact the defective drug lawyers at Janet, Janet & Suggs for a free consultation. We may be able to file a proton pump inhibitor lawsuit.