Study Questions Use of Proton Pump Inhibitors in the Elderly

Published on November 2, 2016 by Sandy Liebhard

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Many seniors treated with Nexium and other proton pump inhibitors may have been  prescribed the drugs inappropriately, according to a study recently published in a French medical journal. The authors of the research concluded that a significant proportion of elderly patients are taking the popular medications outside of suggested treatment guidelines.

The study looked at data on 125 patients with a mean age of 84, all of whom were admitted to an acute geriatric unit during a two year period. The research team identified all of those who were taking a proton pump inhibitor upon admission. Data regarding those patients indicated that almost half of the prescriptions did not meet current prescribing recommendations. And while a gastrointestinal endoscopy is recommended for elderly patients being considered for proton pump inhibitor therapy, just over half of those involved in the study actually underwent the test. Some 68% of those who were prescribed the medications used them for over a year.

“Our study confirms the low appropriateness of PPI prescriptions, particularly in elderly patients,” the researchers concluded. “This can be explained by controversial issues or by difficulties in adapting these recommendations in geriatric practice.”

Are Proton Pump Inhibitors Overused?

In 2013, more than 15 million Americans used prescription proton pump inhibitors. However, it has been estimated that between 25% and 70% of these prescriptions have no appropriate indication. The drugs are only approved for the short-term treatment of GERD and other peptic disorders. However, as the French study suggests, many patients use proton pump inhibitors for far longer than what is recommended.

The overuse of these drugs could have serious implications for an individual’s health. In recent year’s the long-term use of proton pump inhibitors has been tied to a  wide range of serious side effects, including certain bone fractures, magnesium and B12 deficiencies, and a type of drug-induced kidney inflammation called acute interstitial nephritis. Some studies have also suggested that drugs like Nexium may increase a patient’s risk for kidney failure and other renal problems, dementia and heart attacks.

Proton Pump Inhibitor Litigation

According to, a number of proton pump inhibitor lawsuits have been filed in U.S. courts on behalf of individuals who allegedly suffered serious kidney complications due to the use of these medications. Some legal experts have predicted that this litigation could become quite large, prompting a push to have all such federal claims centralized in a single U.S. District Court for the purposes of coordinated pretrial proceedings.

Bernstein Liebhard LLP is now representing plaintiffs in proton pump inhibitor lawsuits involving chronic kidney disease and other renal injuries. To learn more about joining this litigation, please call (888) 994-8177 to arrange for a free, no-obligation case review with a member of our legal team

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