A study published this month in Hepatology has raised new concerns regarding the side effects potentially associated with Nexium and other proton pump inhibitors. According to the paper, the popular heartburn drugs may contribute to the development of hepatic encephalopathy (HE) in patients with cirrhosis.
The study followed 895 individualswith ascites (a buildup of fluid in the abdomen) and cirrhosis, and was originally intended to investigate a possible treatment for ascites. However, more than half of the patients followed had used proton pump inhibitors at some point during the study. The research team determined that those patients had a 31% cumulative 1-year risk for hepatic encephalopathy. Those not taking the drugs had only a 25% increased risk.
“The findings that PPI use is a risk factor for [spontaneous bacterial peritonitis (SBP)] and that SBP is a risk factor for HE do provide support for the hypothesis that PPIs contribute to the development of HE by promoting translocation of gut bacteria,” the paper’s authors wrote.
Hepatic encephalopathy is a loss of brain function triggered by a buildup of toxins in the blood. The condition can develop when the liver fails to properly break down toxins. Cirrhosis is a known risk factor.
“Our findings suggest that prescription of PPIs to patients with cirrhosis at risk of HE needs an appropriate indication,” the authors of the Hepatology study wrote.
This paper is just the latest to suggest that proton pump inhibitors like Nexium, Prilosec and PrevAcid might be associated with harmful side effects. For example, a study published in the April 2016 issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology linked long-term use of the drugs to a 96% increased risk of kidney failure and a 28% increase in the risk for chronic kidney disease when compared to another class of heart burn medications called H2-blockers. Research published in JAMA Internal Medicine this past January also found that the medications might increase the risk of chronic kidney disease by as much as 50%.
Proton pump inhibitors are intended for the short-term treatment of GERD and other disorders related to the over-production of stomach acid. Some 15 million Americans took Nexium or a similar heartburn drug in 2013. But according to the JAMA Internal Medicine study noted above, up to 70% of these prescriptions may be inappropriate.
Long-term use of proton pump inhibitors has been linked to a host of other ailments, including low magnesium levels, B12 deficiency and an increased risk of certain fractures. Some studies have even suggested the drugs may increase a patient’s risk for dementia and heart attacks.
Bernstein Liebhard LLP is now offering free legal reviews to patients who developed chronic kidney disease, kidney failure or other renal complications that may be linked to Nexium or another proton pump inhibitor. To discuss filing a Nexium lawsuit with a member of our legal team, please call (888) 994-8177.