Study Suggests Proton Pump Inhibitors Up Risk for C. Diff, Campylobacter Infection

Published on January 10, 2017 by Sandy Liebhard

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Long-term users of proton pump inhibitors and other heartburn medications may be at risk for C. diff and Campylobacter infections, according to a newly-published study. Both pathogens can cause significant, even life-threatening, gastrointestinal illness.

The population-based study was published this month in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, and involved 565,000 Scottish adults. Of these, 188,000 had received at least one prescription for an acid suppressant – either a proton pump inhibitor or H2 blocker – between 1999 and 2013. Those who had taken a heartburn drug had a 1.7-times increased risk of C. difficile and a 3.7 times increased risk of Campylobacter. Among hospitalized patients, those using the medications had 1.4-times and 4.5-times increased risks, respectively.

“Users of these medications should be particularly vigilant about food hygiene as the removal of stomach acid makes them more easily infected with agents such as Campylobacter, which is commonly found on poultry,” senior author Prof. Thomas MacDonald said in a statement announcing the findings.

This is not the first time proton pump inhibitors have been linked to an increased risk of stomach infections. In 2012, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration warned of a possible link to C. diff. Patients using the drugs were advised to seek immediate medical attention if they developed diarrhea that did not improve.

Proton Pump Inhibitor Litigation

Publication of this new study comes amid mounting litigation involving an alleged link between proton pump inhibitors and kidney failure, as well as other renal complications. The litigation began to grow following the publication of several studies that linked long-term use of the medications to various kidney ailments, including acute interstitial nephritis, acute kidney injury, chronic kidney disease and renal failure. Plaintiffs claim that the manufacturers of Nexium and other drugs in this class have received numerous reports of kidney injuries linked to the drugs, but have failed to provide proper warnings to patients and doctors.

Later this month, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation will hear Oral Arguments on a proposal to centralize all federal proton pump inhibitor lawsuits involving kidney complications in a single U.S. District Court for coordinated pretrial proceedings. While many plaintiffs favor consolidation, defendants have voiced their opposition.

Bernstein Liebhard LLP has filed a number of kidney lawsuits on behalf of proton pump inhibitor patients. If you experienced renal complications that may be related to the use of these heartburn medications, please call (888) 994-8177 to discuss your case with our legal team today.

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