Nexium and Similar Heartburn Drugs May Work In Smaller Doses For Women: Study

Amid mounting concerns about the potential side effects of Nexium and other proton pump inhibitor drugs, as well as questions about whether the drugs may be overused by many Americans, the findings of a new study suggest that women may be able to take much smaller doses of the popular heartburn drugs and still have them be just as effective.

Proton pump inhibitors (PPI) include some of the best known brand name drugs in the U.S., including Nexium, Prilosec, Protonix and other medications that combine to generate sales of about $14 billion per year. The medications work by reducing the amount of stomach acid produced, reducing the symptoms of heartburn and pain caused when the acid backs up into the esophagus.

Many individuals remain on the drugs for years, with little effort to reduce or eliminate use. However, over the past year, increasing evidence has emerged that suggests there may be a link between the acid reflux drugs and kidney problems, including a risk of renal failure, chronic kidney disease, acute kidney injury and acute interstitial nephritis.

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In a study published last month in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, Icelandic researchers report that most women were able to take smaller doses of proton pump inhibitors and still show a reduction of symptoms from erosive esophagitis.

The study involved 100 patients, evenly split among men and women. Half of each gender group were randomly chosen to step down their long-term usage of PPI therapy to half a dose, and researchers found that women were three times more likely to tolerate the half dose and continue to show symptom control. Only three of the 25 women given lower doses failed to complete a two-month lower dose therapy program, compared with nine of the 25 men.

The findings raise questions about the actual necessary dosage for long-term use, as concerns over the safety of Nexium, Prilosec and other similar heartburn drugs continue to cause debate within the medical community.

Proton Pump Inhibitor Kidney Risk

In December 2014, the FDA required new warnings for the first time about a form of kidney damage associated with proton pump inhibitors, known as acute interstitial nephritis, which involves a sudden inflammation of the kidneys, which can lead to more severe problems.

More recent studies have highlighted the potential link between Nexium and kidney problems, suggesting that the popular drugs make also cause users to experience acute kidney injury, chronic kidney disease and end-stage kidney failure, often resulting in the need for dialysis treatment or a kidney transplant.

Earlier this year, a study published in the medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine also found an increased risk of chronic kidney disease with the heartburn medications, indicating that users of Nexium, Prilosec and other PPI may be 50% more likely when compared to non-users.

These findings were supported by another study published in April 2016, in which researchers with the Department of Veterans Affairs found that users of Nexium, Prilosec or other PPIs may be 96% more likely to develop kidney failure and 28% more likely to develop chronic kidney disease after five years of use.

Another study published last month in Circulation Research questioned the overall safety of the drugs, which may inhibit vascular cells in a way that causes them to age prematurely, resulting in a host of health problems including kidney damage and an increased risk of heart disease and neurological problems.

A growing number of individuals diagnosed with renal failure, kidney disease or other kidney problems are now pursuing Nexium lawsuits, Prilosec lawsuits and other claims against makers of the medications, alleging that consumers and the medical community have not been adequately warned about the risks associated with the medicatioons.

Plaintiffs claim that drug makers placed their desire for profits before consumers safety by withholding important safety information, alleging that if warnings had been provided about the risk of acute interstitial nephritis, kidney injury, kidney disease and kidney failure, many individuals may have been able to avoid these severe and potentially life-threatening injuries.

As heartburn drug injury lawyers continue to review and file cases, it is expected that thousands of cases could be filed in the coming months.


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