Nexium Overuse Results in Unnecessary Patient Harm: Editorial

Published on August 15, 2016 by Sandy Liebhard

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A new editorial warns that the widespread use of Nexium and other proton pump inhibitors could be causing unnecessary patient harm. Writing in the August 8th issue of the Pharmaceutical Journal, Daniel J.B. Marks, a clinical pharmacologist with the University College London Hospital, urges doctors to take steps to ensure that these popular heartburn medications are not overprescribed, so as to reduce the risk of kidney complications and other serious side effects.

Dangers of Overuse

“Although they are cost effective when used appropriately, studies show they are prescribed without a clear indication in up to 70% of cases,” Marks writes. “Although the absolute risk of harm to individuals from PPIs is low, their widespread, long-term use can cause adverse effects that contribute to significant negative impacts at a population level.”

Among other things, Marks notes that proton pump inhibitors are “now well recognized as a cause of acute interstitial nephritis.” This condition, which describes a sudden inflammation of the kidney tubules, can result in renal failure if not promptly treated.

The editorial also cites accumulating studies that have linked the overuse of proton pump inhibitors to an increased risk chronic kidney disease and failure, C. diff infections, bone fractures, and heart attacks.

“There is clear and consistent evidence of overprescribing as clinicians overestimate benefits and underestimate harms, associated with substantial costs to healthcare providers,” Marks concludes. “Measures should be put in place to educate prescribers on appropriate indications and durations for PPI use, provide a degree of stewardship, and facilitate long-term users in de-escalating therapy.”

Proton Pump Inhibitor Litigation

In addition to Nexium, other drugs in the proton pump inhibitor class include Prevacid, Prilosec, and Aciphex, to name a few. Lower-dose, over-the-counter versions are also available.

In recent months, several Nexium lawsuits have been filed on behalf of patients who developed chronic kidney disease, renal failure or other kidney complications allegedly associated with the use of these drugs. Filings were prompted by the publication of two studies earlier this year that suggested the extended use of proton pump inhibitors increases the likelihood that an individual will develop chronic kidney disease or kidney failure. Plaintiffs accuse the drugs’ manufacturers of failing to provide patients and doctors with adequate safety warnings, despite growing reports of kidney injuries that occurred in individuals treated with proton pump inhibitors.

Bernstein Liebhard LLP is currently reviewing Nexium lawsuits and other legal claims involving proton pump inhibitors and serious kidney complications. To learn more, please call (888) 994-8177.

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