People with heartburn and acid reflux disease are frequently prescribed medications that help to block or reduce excess stomach acid. These medications are called Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs). PPIs include prescribed medications and over-the-counter drugs. PPIs are often very successful in the treatment of heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), but new research shows that these drugs also carry health risks such as chronic kidney disease, nutrient depletion, heart attack and bone fractures.
It is estimated that over 15 million people use PPIs. There are currently many different brands of PPIs on the market that include:
The popularity of these drugs is due to the fact that they successfully reduce the production of stomach acid and lessen the uncomfortable symptoms associated with GERD. Because the drugs work so well, people tend to stay on the medications for long periods of time. Studies are showing that long-term use of PPIs may cause health problems in users.
JAMA, the Journal of American Medical Association, published a study in 2016 that claimed that individuals using PPIs long-term have a 20 to 50 percent increased risk of chronic kidney disease. The risk increased the longer the patient was using the PPI.
A Harvard Health Letter, also released in 2016, says that PPI use may cause issues with the body’s ability to absorb important nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, and vitamins B12 and B6. Stomach acid helps the body to digest food and take in nutrients. The PPI essentially blocks the production of stomach acid so the natural process of food digestion is compromised.
The FDA issued a warning in 2010 that there are greater risks of bone fractures of the hip, wrist and spine to patients using PPIs for a long period of time. A BMJ study in 2012 showed a higher risk for hip fractures in PPI users. The increased risk of fractures could also be related to the fact that the body is not ingesting nutrients needed to keep bones healthy.
The German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases in Bonn found that regular users of PPIs have a 44% increased risk of dementia as compared to people who do not use PPIs. The science is still evolving on the possible associated risk of dementia with prolonged PPI use.
The studies and data associated with PPIs indicate that doctors should use caution in recommending long-term use of PPIs to their patients. Additionally, individuals suffering from GERD and other digestive problems should carefully evaluate the extended use of over-the-counter PPIs. While PPIs are very effective at diminishing the symptoms of excess stomach acid, they may cause additional unintended health risks when used for extended periods of time. Currently there are a number of lawyers exploring lawsuits against the pharmaceutical companies who manufacture and market PPIs. The lawsuits allege that the pharmaceutical companies did not adequately warn users of the risks associated with long-term use of PPIs. Brett Oppenheimer is an attorney who can help you to determine if your case warrants investigation. Please contact Brett at (502) 242-8877 for a free consultation.