Nearly one in five people across the country suffer from heartburn, making it one of the most common chronic conditions in the U.S. While many sufferers can treat an occasional flare-up with antacids, millions of Americans rely on prescription heartburn and digestive medications to cope with their symptoms. However, these patients may be putting their lives at risk, as researchers have found that some heartburn drugs dramatically increase the risk of kidney failure—especially when taken over a long period of time.
Study Discovers Link Between Proton-Pump Inhibitors and Kidney Damage
The study, which was recently published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, found a link between proton-pump inhibitors and kidney failure. Proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) are a group of drugs commonly used to treat acid reflux, heartburn, and ulcers by reducing gastric acid production. Popular PPI medications include Nexium®, Prilosec®, and Prevacid®.
The study compared long-term effects of PPIs to usage of histamine H2 receptor blockers, another common group of drugs used to reduce stomach acid levels, including the medications Pepcid®, Zantac®, and Tagamet. Researchers examined 170,000 new users of PPIs and 20,000 new users of histamine H2 receptor blockers over the course of five years, monitoring their diagnoses of kidney problems over time. The study uncovered some worrying results, including:
- Fifteen percent of patients taking PPIs were diagnosed with chronic kidney disease (CKD), while only 11 percent of patients on H2-blockers suffered CKD.
- Patients taking PPIs had a 28% increased risk of CKD compared to patients on histamine H2 receptor blockers.
- People who used PPIs increased their risk of developing kidney failure by 96%.
This evidence is just the most recent in a series of studies identifying the risks of kidney failure when taking PPIs. In light of the results, most researchers have warned that PPIs should only be used when medically necessary and should only be taken for a short duration (typically a month or less).
Patients May Be Owed Compensation After Suffering Kidney Failure
If you are suffering from kidney failure after taking Nexium, Prilosec, or another PPI, the McGartland Law Firm can get you the compensation you need for your hospital bills and medical treatments. Call the number on this page to speak with a dangerous drugs attorney today.