June 28, 2016 — Consumer Reports is warning about the risk of severe kidney damage and other side effects from anti-heartburn drugs like Nexium and Prilosec.
The medications belong to the Proton-Pump Inhibitor (PPI) class, and they work by decreasing the amount of acid made by the stomach.
Consumer Reports published a warning about studies linking PPIs to higher risks than other heartburn drugs called H2 blockers, such as Pepcid AC and Zantac.
Recent studies have found that people who use PPIs for at least one year have a 20% increased risk of kidney disease, a 15% increased risk of heart attack, and a 44% increased risk of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
Because PPIs decrease stomach acid, they can also interfere with the absorption of nutrients. This can lead to calcium deficiencies and osteoporosis. Other studies have found higher rates of infections when bacteria is not killed in the stomach.
Consumer Reports also urged caution before starting PPIs because they can be very hard to stop. Many people experience a “rebound” effect in which the stomach over-produces acid, resulting in severe pain, nausea, and food coming up in the throat.
Experts do not know why PPIs are associated with kidney problems. It could be because they decrease magnesium levels or cause low-level inflammation in the kidneys known as nephritis. A growing number of lawsuits accuse drug-makers of downplaying these risks.
List of PPI heartburn drugs:
- Aciphex (rabeprazole)
- Dexilant (dexlansoprazole)
- Nexium (esomeprazole)
- Prevacid (lansoprazole)
- Prilosec (omeprazole)
- Protonix (pantoprazole)
- Vimovo (naproxen / esomeprazole)
- Zegerid (omeprazole / sodium bicarbonate)
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