New Proton Pump Inhibitor Worries: Increased Risk of Early Death

Published on July 12, 2017 by Laurie Villanueva

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A growing body of research has suggested that proton pump inhibitors may be linked to a higher risk of kidney failure and other serious side effects. Now a new study is raising further concerns, indicating that the popular heartburn drugs may also increase a patient’s risk for early death.

The proton pump inhibitor class includes drugs like Nexium, Prilosec and PrevAcid, among others. Prescription and over-the-counter versions are taken by millions of people to treat GERD and other conditions related to the excess production of stomach acid. However, some research has indicated that they are overused, and many people do not realize that proton pump inhibitors are only indicated for short-term use. They are frequently taken for months, or even years at a time.

This latest study, which was published earlier this month in BMJ Open, drew data from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs national database on about 3.5 million people. The analysis compared:

  • 350,000 new users of proton pump inhibitors and H2 blockers (Tagamet, Zantac, etc.)
  • Proton pump inhibitor patients with nearly 3.3 million non-users
  • Proton pump inhibitors with 2.9 million people who had never used proton pump inhibitors or H2 blockers.

New proton pump inhibitor users were 25% more likely to die compared to those newly-treated with H2 blockers. The mortality risk increased the longer subjects took proton pump inhibitors. The danger also grew among those who were taking the drugs in the absence of an appropriate indication.

“No matter how we sliced and diced the data from this large data set, we saw the same thing: There’s an increased risk of death among PPI users,” Ziyad Al-Aly, MD, senior author and an assistant professor of medicine at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, said in a statement announcing the findings. “For example, when we compared patients taking H2 blockers with those taking PPIs for one to two years, we found those on PPIs had a 50 percent increased risk of dying over the next five years. People have the idea that PPIs are very safe because they are readily available, but there are real risks to taking these drugs, particularly for long periods of time.”

Proton Pump Inhibitor Lawsuits

Dozens of proton pump inhibitor lawsuits have been filed against the manufacturers of Prilosec, PrevAcid, Protonix and Dexilant on behalf of patients who allegedly developed kidney failure and other renal complications due to long-term use of the medications. In June, plaintiffs petitioned the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to centralize all federally-filed cases in a single U.S. District Court for the purpose of coordinated pretrial proceedings.  The Panel will hear oral arguments on the matter during its July 27th Hearing Session in Los Angeles, California.

The nationwide law firm of Bernstein Liebhard LLP is currently representing proton pump inhibitor lawsuit plaintiffs. If you or a loved one were diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, kidney failure, acute kidney injury or acute interstitial nephritis following treatment a proton pump inhibitor medication, please call (888) 994-5118 to learn more about your legal options.

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