Proton pump inhibitors are a class of drugs used to treat heartburn, ulcers, acid reflux and other gastrointestinal issues. Some of the most popular drugs within this category include Prilosec, Nexium, and Prevacid. These heartburn drugs are frequently promoted by the manufacturers as effective and safe, leading many doctors to continue prescribing these medications. However, patients who take a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) to alleviate heartburn or acid reflux, may experience severe side effects. Recent studies concluded that taking a PPI may be associated with an increased risk for serious, chronic, even life-threatening side effects such as:
- Chronic kidney disease
- Acute kidney injury, also called “acute renal failure”
- Kidney transplant
- End-stage renal failure, also called “end-stage renal disease”
- Interstitial nephritis (a type of inflammation in the kidneys)
How Do Proton Pump Inhibitors Work?
Proton pump inhibitors work by reducing the level of stomach acid produced by the glands in your stomach’s lining. By doing so, PPI’s minimize the symptoms of heartburn and pain caused if that stomach juice backs up into the esophagus. This also gives the esophagus appropriate time to heal.
These prescription and over-the-counter PPI medications may be associated with an increased risk of serious, life-threatening kidney problems:
- Nexium (esomeprazole)
- Nexium 24 HR (esomeprazole)
- Prevacid (lansoprazole)
- Prevacid 24 HR (lansoprazole)
- Prilosec (omeprazole)
- Prilosec OTC (omeprazole)
- Zegerid (omeprazole with sodium bicarbonate)
- Zegerid OTC (omeprazole with sodium bicarbonate)
- Dexilant (dexlansoprazole)
- Dexilant SoluTab (dexlansoprazole)
- Protonix (pantoprazole)
- AcipHex (rabeprazole)
- AcipHex Sprinkle (rabeprazole)
Recent Studies Show a Connection Between PPI Use and Kidney Injuries
According to recently published studies, taking a PPI may increase an individual’s risk of developing chronic kidney disease, acute kidney injury or interstitial nephritis. Your kidneys filter waste products and extra fluid from the blood and remove them from your body through your urine. Chronic kidney disease, also called chronic kidney failure, occurs gradually as the kidneys lose their ability to function. As the kidneys lose their ability to function, waste products and excess fluid can accumulate in the body. If the condition progresses, kidney dialysis or a kidney transplant may be required. Left untreated, or if treatment is unsuccessful, the condition can be fatal.
Acute kidney injury, or acute renal failure, occurs suddenly over several hours or days. The kidneys rapidly lose their ability to filter waste products, which may lead to excessively high levels of waste products and fluid imbalances in the body. Patients who suffer from acute kidney injury can also experience cardiovascular complications (such as heart failure, heart attack, arrhythmias or cardiac arrest) and lung complications, which can be fatal. Acute kidney injury can lead to chronic kidney disease and end-stage renal disease. Immediate treatment is necessary or the condition can be fatal.
Interstitial nephritis is another type of kidney disorder. This condition is characterized by inflammation in specific tissue in the kidneys, which interferes with how the kidneys function. In severe cases, the inflammation can lead to chronic kidney failure and cause permanent damage to the kidneys.
Short term use of proton pump inhibitors has not currently been linked to any catastrophic side effects. However, those patients who have been using the medication for some time may be at high risk of serious bone fracture as well. The FDA recommends that no individual take more than three different 14-day treatment courses over a one-year period. In one recent study involving 135 patients over the age of 50, high doses of proton pump inhibitors taken over the course of 12 months increased the chances of that patient breaking his or her hip by more than two and a half times.
PPIs have been aggressively marketed to consumers. Research from the San Francisco Public Health Department shows that these drugs are often prescribed when patients may actually benefit more from diet and lifestyle changes.
PPI Manufacturers Do Not Warn of All Dangerous Side Effects of PPI Use
Although manufacturers of proton pump inhibitors provide information about potential side effects and contraindications, they do not warn about the severe, sometimes life-threatening risk of acute kidney injury or chronic kidney disease e associated with these medications.
While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a number of safety warnings regarding proton pump inhibitors, such as warnings about PPI’s association with bone fractures, low magnesium levels, and a specific type of gastrointestinal inflammation caused by a particular bacteria, it has not specifically addressed the very real and dangerous possibility of irreparable kidney damage.
If you have suffered a kidney injury as a result of taking a Proton Pump Inhibitor medication, please call 303-792-5595 to speak with our Colorado mass tort attorneys. The case was recently designed as a multi-district litigation (MDL) and assigned to the Hon. Claire C. Cecchi, United States District Court for the District of New Jersey. On August 23, 2017, Judge Cecchi appointed Burg Simpson shareholder Seth A. Katz to serve on the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee.