Inappropriate Use of Proton Pump Inhibitors, Other Prescription Drugs May Prove Risky for Seniors

Published on March 23, 2017 by Sandy Liebhard

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A new study suggests that many older people are being hospitalized due to the inappropriate use of prescription drugs. According to a report from, proton pump inhibitors were among the medications that have proven problematic for this patient population.

The study was authored by researchers at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and the Health Research Board, and investigated the impacts of inappropriate prescribing in cases where a medication’s risks outweighed its benefits. The findings indicated  that older people faced a 29% increased risk for  adverse events when a drug was prescribed inappropriately. Inappropriate use was also associated with an approximately 15%  increase in the rate of doctor visits and  a 40% rise in hospital emergency visits.

“This age group is also at increased risk as they frequently have multiple chronic medical conditions and possible interactions between drugs they take to treat their multiple conditions,” the study  authors noted.

Proton pump inhibitors, like Nexium, Prilosec and PrevAcid, were among those found to be risky, according to  The study revealed that these drugs are  often prescribed to patients at high dosages for more than eight weeks.

Proton Pump Inhibitor Risks

In 2013, roughly 15 million Americans used proton pump inhibitors to control symptoms associated with GERD and other problems caused by the excess production of stomach acid. However, it has been estimated that between 25% and 70% of these prescriptions have no appropriate indication.

Studies have suggested that the long-term use of proton pump inhibitor may increase a patient’s risk for serious health problems, including low magnesium levels, B12 deficiency, C. diff infections, dementia, and heart attacks. Most recently, research has linked extended proton pump inhibitor use to the development of life-threatening renal complications, including acute interstitial nephritis, chronic kidney disease, acute kidney injury and kidney failure. notes that a number of proton pump inhibitor lawsuits have been filed over the past year by patients who allegedly experienced serious renal problems after using drugs like Nexium, Prilosec and PrevAcid.  In addition to citing recent studies linking the medications to kidney failure and related complications, the complaints claim that  the drugs’ manufacturers have received numerous reports of kidney injuries in patients who have used proton pump inhibitors. Yet the companies have not taken any steps to provide patients or doctors with adequate warnings about these risks.

Bernstein Liebhard LLP is actively filing kidney injury cases involving Nexium, Prilosec and PrevAcid. To learn more, please contact our office at (888) 994-5118.

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