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July 15, 2020

PPI Heartburn Drugs May Increase COVID-19 Risk: Study

A new study indicates the side effects of heartburn drugs like Nexium and Prilosec could increase individuals’ risk of developing COVID-19. This news comes in addition to concerns that heartburn drugs can increase users’ risk of dangerous side effects including kidney injury and bone fractures.

Last week the American Journal of Gastroenterology released a pre-print report showing research that links proton pump inhibitor (PPI) use to an increased risk of COVID-19 infection. The team behind the study—researchers from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles—indicated that use of PPI heartburn medications should be added to health officials’ list of factors that could increase the risk of COVID-19 infection.

“In regression analysis, individuals using PPIs up to once daily…or twice daily…had significantly increased odds for reporting a positive COVID-19 test when compared to those not taking PPIs,” the researchers indicated in the results section of the study.

PPI drugs are prescribed to reduce the amount of acid in the stomach, acting as a treatment for heartburn, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and ulcers. Some of the big brand names that belong to this classification of drugs include Nexium, Prilosec, Prevacid, and Protonix.

In the study, part of which was conducted through an online survey from May 3 to June 24, surveyed 53,130 individuals. Of that sample size, 3,386 individuals tested positive for COVID-19.

However, those who tested positive for the novel coronavirus and used PPI drugs up to once daily more than doubled their risk of COVID-19 infection than the rest of the sample size. Those who took PPI heartburn drugs twice daily increased their risk of COVID-19 infection by over three and a half times.

“Our finding that PPI use is associated with increased odds for acquiring SARS-CoV-2, which invades and replicates within enterocytes, is consistent with prior literature showing that PPIs also increase the risk for other enteric infections,” the study indicated.

PPI Heartburn Drugs Lawsuit

Currently PPI heartburn manufacturers face thousands of lawsuits over injuries caused by dangerous PPI side effects. In the United States alone, over 15,000 lawsuits have been filed for injuries caused by Nexium, Prilosec, Protonix, and Prevacid.

Each of these claims raise similar allegations that PPI users developed severe side effects not warned by manufactures, including kidney disease, acute kidney injury, and bone fractures. PPI heartburn drug users claim that they could have avoided these diagnoses if manufactures would have provided more warning to consumers and health officials.

Currently, these PPI heartburn drug lawsuits are consolidated as part of a multidistrict litigation in the District of New Jersey, awaiting pretrial action and organization.

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