Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are a class of medications used to treat persistent heartburn and other acid-peptic disorders, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug-induced gastropathy, and peptic ulcer disease (PUD).
First introduced in the late 1980s and sold under brand names such as Prilosec® (Omeprazole), Nexium® (Esomeprazole), Prevacid® (Lansoprazole), and others, prescription and over-the-counter PPIs were used by more than 15 million Americans in 2013.
However, PPIs have been linked to short-term kidney conditions such as acute kidney injury and acute interstitial nephritis. A Johns Hopkins University study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in January 2016 found that long-term PPI use increases a patient's risk of developing chronic kidney disease by up to 50 percent, suggesting that these medications may not be suitable for all patient populations.
PPI Usage and Patients
PPI medications such as Prilosec, Nexium and Prevacid reduce acid by entering the bloodstream and telling acid-forming cells in the stomach lining to produce less gastric acid. PPIs are often prescribed to or used by patients with ulcers, as the reduction in gastric acid alleviates ulcer-related symptoms and gives ulcers time to heal. They're also used to treat damage to the esophagus caused by stomach acid, a condition known as erosive esophagitis.
PPI drugs can also be used in conjunction with the penicillin antibiotic Amoxicillin and the macrolide antibiotic Clarithromycin to prevent stomach ulcers caused by a Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection.
Prilosec, Nexium, Prevacid, and other PPI medications have been prescribed to patients of all ages, including infants. However, some patient populations have a greater risk of developing PPI-related side effects and complications. For example, patients ages 50 and older are more likely to experience bone fractures or cardiovascular disease linked to PPIs than younger, healthier users.
PPI Side Effects and Complications
Although PPI medications relieve discomfort caused by excess gastric acid, they're also linked to a number of side effects that range from uncomfortable to dangerous. Some of the milder side effects associated with Prilosec, Nexium, and other PPI drugs include:
- Stomach pain
- Severe diarrhea
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Difficulty absorbing nutrients
- Low magnesium levels
- Joint pain
- Rashes and other skin irritations
Unfortunately for patients, the list of adverse effects associated with PPI medications doesn't stop there. PPIs have also been linked to a variety of serious and even life-threatening complications, including:
- Damaged arteries
- Heart attack
- Bone fractures
- C. difficile infections
- Kidney injury
- Chronic kidney disease
- Kidney failure
The risk of developing these and other PPI-related complications increases with the number of daily doses and duration of treatment. For example, research shows that patients who take PPI medications just once a day have a 15 percent increased risk of developing chronic kidney disease, while patients who take PPIs twice daily have a 46 percent increased risk of developing kidney problems.
Recognizing these risks, the Food and Drug Administration recommends that use of PPI medications be limited to no more than three 14-day treatment cycles in a single year. However, Prilosec, Nexium, and other PPIs may be prescribed for longer durations when used to treat ulcers.
Have You Experienced Negative Effects Linked to PPIs?
If you or someone you love experienced adverse effects linked to PPI usage, you may be entitled to pursue compensation from the drug's manufacturer. The knowledgeable, experienced personal injury attorneys with the McGartland Law Firm can help you explore your legal options and assist you in deciding how best to proceed. Contact McGartland Law Firm by phone at 866-957-5141 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss the details of your case. Our skilled legal team is eager to help you pursue the compensation you need and deserve.