Proton pump inhibitors, also known as PPIs, are a class of medications used to treat acid-peptic disorders, such as frequent heartburn—defined as heartburn that occurs two or more times per week—gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and peptic ulcer disease (PUD) by telling the cells in the stomach lining to make less acid.
The drugs are sold under a number of notable brand names, including Nexium® (esomeprazole magnesium) and Prilosec® (omeprazole). While they're an effective treatment for many patients, their use isn't without risk. AstraZeneca, the maker of Nexium and Prilosec, has issued information on side effects and warnings related to the drugs that can help patients make informed decisions about whether taking a PPI medication is right for them.
Potential Side Effects of PPI Medications
Nexium, Prilosec, and other PPI drugs can cause a number of side effects, ranging from uncomfortable to serious and even potentially fatal. Some of the most common side effects associated with taking PPIs include:
- Abdominal pain
- Dry mouth
Serious side effects and symptoms linked to PPIs include:
- Muscle weakness
- Hand or foot spasms
- Muscle aches or cramps
- Spasms of the voice box
- Fast or abnormal heartbeat
- Serious kidney problems
- Bone fractures, particularly fractures of the spine, hip, and wrist
- Lupus erythematosus
- Low magnesium levels
- Low vitamin B12 levels
Nexium and Prilosec can also cause serious allergic reactions. Patients are advised to talk to their doctor about stopping PPI treatment for gastric disorders if their throat tightens, if their face swells, if they have difficulty breathing, or if they get an unexplained rash.
Additionally, the risk of developing serious side effects increases the longer a patient is on the medication. For this reason, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends limiting PPI treatment to no more than three cycles a year, each lasting approximately two weeks.
Potential Drug Interactions
Nexium, Prilosec, and other PPI medications also have the potential to interact with other popular prescription and over-the-counter drugs, as well as some herbal supplements. Patients taking any of the following medications and supplements should talk to their doctor before starting Nexium or Prilosec treatment:
- Reyataz (atazanavir)
- Coumadin or Jantoven (warfarin)
- Viracept (nelfinavir)
- Fortovase (saquinavir)
- Nizoral (ketoconazole)
- Lanoxin (digoxin)
- Vfend (voriconazole)
- Pletal (cilostazol)
- Valium (diazepam)
- Prograf (tacrolimus)
- Tarceva (erlotinib)
- Plavix (clopidogrel)
- Cellcept (myophenolate mofetil)
- Rimactane, Rifater or Rifamate (rifampin)
- St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum)
- Products containing iron
People Who Should Not Take PPIs
PPI medications are not for everyone. Patients who are allergic to esomeprazole magnesium and omeprazole—the active ingredients of Nexium and Prilosec—should not take PPI drugs. In addition, patients who experience the following symptoms should not take Nexium or Prilosec:
- Frequent chest pain
- Chest or shoulder pain that causes lightheadedness, sweating, shortness of breath, or spreads to the arms, neck, or shoulders
- Heartburn with sweating, lightheadedness, or dizziness
- Trouble swallowing food
- Pain when swallowing
- Vomiting blood
- Bloody or black stools
Did You Suffer Serious Side Effects After Using PPIs?
If you experienced serious side effects associated with the use of PPI medications such as Nexium and Prilosec, you may be able to take legal action to pursue compensation for your injuries, particularly if you weren't sufficiently warned of the dangers linked to proton pump inhibitors. Texas law allows the victims of dangerous drugs to file personal injury lawsuits to fight for damages, such as the cost of related medical bills, lost wages due to missed work, pain and suffering, and more. If you believe you have a case, contact McGartland Law Firm today to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss it.