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Kidney Disease and Kidney Failure Risk with Nexium, Prilosec, Other Acid Reflux Drugs Highlighted in New Study

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Amid growing concerns in recent years about the risk of kidney problems from Nexium, Prilosec and similar acid reflux drugs, new research provides further evidence that users of proton pump inhibitors (PPI) may be more likely to develop chronic kidney disease and end-stage kidney failure.

In a study published this week in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, researchers working with the Veterans Affairs Clinical Epidemiology Center and local universities set out to compare the acid reflux drug kidney risks among users of PPIs and a different class of heartburn drugs, known as histamine H2-receptor antagonists, or H2 blockers,.

Proton pump inhibitors (PPI) include some of the most widely used brand name medications in the U.S., including Nexium, Prilosec, Protonix, Prevacid, Dexilant, AcipHex and others. These drugs work by reducing the amount of acid in the stomach and are widely used by millions of Americans, since they are thought to carry few serious side effects.

Researchers examined data from Department of Veteran Affairs national databases to identify 173,321 people who used a PPI, and compared them to a group of 20,270 people who received an H2 blocker, which includes other heartburn medications like Zantac, Pepcid, Tagamet, Tazac and Axid.

After following patients for five years to ascertain renal outcomes, researchers 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.

Over the five year period, 15% of all PPI users developed chronic kidney disease. The researchers also found what they called a “graded” association between the length of PPI exposure and the overall risk of kidney problems, suggesting that the longer the medications are taken, the greater the risk.

The findings are particularly troubling since many users remain on Nexium, Prilosec and other PPI acid reflux drugs for long periods of time, since they are concerned that heartburn symptoms will return and they believe the medications carry little risk. In addition, with Nexium, Prilosec and other PPI products now widely available over-the-counter, the number of kidney problems may be substantially underreported.

Risk of Kidney Injury, Kidney Disease and Kidney Failure

The study was launched since Nexium, Prilosec and other PPI drugs are known to carry a risk of acute interstitial nephritis and acute kidney injury, but research is continuing to emerge about the risk of chronic kidney disease and kidney failure.

The FDA required a number of warning label changes for Nexium, Prilosec and other PPis in December 2014, adding information for the first time about the risk of acute interstitial nephritis seen among users of the acid reflux drugs. This condition involves inflammation that can lead to kidney injury or kidney failure if not promptly treated.

In April 2015, a study published in the medical journal CMAJ Open found that side effects of the acid reflux drugs may also the risk of acute kidney injury, which involves an abrupt loss of kidney function.

That research was followed by a study published earlier this year in the medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine, which also found an increased risk of chronic kidney disease with use of proton pump inhibitors. That study suggested that users of Nexium, Prilosec and other heartburn drugs may face a 50% higher kidney disease risk when compared to non-users.

While this latest study does not establish a causal connection, researchers indicate that the findings provide further evidence of the kidney risks with Nexium, Prilosec and other PPI heartburn medications. As a result, long-term users of the medications are being urged to discuss with their doctors whether it is necessary to continue using the drugs.

The findings also come as individuals throughout the United States are now pursuing potential Nexium lawsuits, Prilosec lawsuits and other claims against makers of the medications, alleging that they placed their desire for profits before consumers safety by withholding information about the potential kidney risks from consumers and the medical community.

Plaintiffs allege that if warnings had been provided about the risk of acute kidney injury, chronic kidney injury and kidney failure, many individuals may have been able to avoid these severe and potentially life-threatening injuries.

As acid reflux 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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13 comments

  1. Joyce Reply

    What alternative do we have??

  2. Penny Reply

    So my choices are kidney disease or cancer of my esophagus. I’ll stick with Nexium & have blood tests every 3 mo with my nephrologist

  3. Deborah Reply

    Another factor not mentioned is alcohol consumption of the study subjects. I had previously heard that there is definitely an increased risk of health problems if one drinks excessively while using these medications, but not nearly as much with minimal alcohol use. I’m with Penny on this. Esophageal cancer offers almost zero chance of cure, but there are many treatment options for kidney disease. I’ll stick with my med. I’m using a very low dose anyway.

  4. Anne Reply

    Don’t use PPIs (Proton Pump Inhibitors).

  5. miranda Reply

    I have been taking prilosec
    for years. While unconscious, my doctor
    put me on it.
    I had no ideal I needed it.
    I eventually developed kindey problem. I need
    to know what to do?

  6. taif Reply

    1.So what is the alternative medication for PPI ( nexium, prilosec ect) if the person have acidity problem what should he used in stead of PPI.

    2. your rejecting all PPI so what should we take for acidity kindly prescribe i am waiting for your reply.

  7. Theresa Reply

    In February I brought this, along with damage to bones (osteoporosis) to the attention of my gastroenterologist and asked if there were any type of surgery available (which I knew for a fact is being performed) and he answered no. He suggested I take the Nexium 1 day and follow it with regular antacids until I had another episode of reflux. Hand me a list of all antacids on the market since 1975 and then the prescription drugs that became available (Tagamet 1978) and I can tell you what year I took it and when it stopped working. I’ve taken them all, and it needs to be addressed. If a lawsuit is the only way to get change then I’m all for it. And I am NOT a litigious person.

  8. Dan Reply

    I have been using this at high dosage for 20 YEARS!
    Omeprazole. Through the VA.

  9. JoAnn Reply

    I am a long, long time user of Prilosec . So far as I know I do not have kidney problems.

  10. Cindy Reply

    I cured myself holistically with specific herbs, probiotics and prebiotics. Also, cut way back on sugar and cut out dairy when I figured out how much it congrats me (true for many people) and causes inflammation. I do eat yogurt since it is fermented. You need to work on healing your gut and your gut biome. Almost 80% of the people in United States have an overgrowth of Candida (yeast) in their digestive tract. Doing a Candida cleanse for 4 to 6 weeks will help people with reflux significantly. You need to heal and seal your gut. Inflammation is the precursor to all disease! Many people have a hiatal hernia they do not know about that exacerbated this. Get checked out.

  11. Alida Reply

    I was diagnosed with GERD about 5yrs ago, and was given a prescription. I was told I would have to basically take it for the rest of my life. I started taking it, and after about a week, I took out the information chart you find inside about side effects etc. Wowzers! Couldn’t believe all the potential for kidney problems and other side effects.

    Started researching online line different natural products and found one I have been using for 5 yrs. no more symptoms. However, I also changed my eating habits. Lots of fresh veggies. Almost completely cut out alcohol, junk food etc. what a difference. Lots of water. The product I’ve been using is from BELL, called Acidic Stomach Alkaline Balance. It’s a complete lifestyle change in eating habits if you have GERD or Acid Reflux, but using this product with the changes has completely stopped the issue. I gave my doctor this information and I actually believe she mentions it to people as an alternative to prescription.

  12. Beverly Reply

    Having GERD I had been on Prolisec for approximately five years. My BUN and Creatinine values were found to be high in Feb. 2015 but doctors thought it was due to a heart problem. (Heart affects kidney functions.) Have the above tests done frequently now as the values go up and down. Stopped taking this medication in February. I now have a glass or two of plain Kefir daily and avoid foods that are known to cause my heartburn. So far…so good. Eager to see my next BUN and Creatinine test results.

  13. Corey Reply

    I was diagnosed with GERDS in the early 90’s. So far no problems. But I’m very concerned now. I’m kind of with Penny. If I don’t take Prilosec once a day the heartburn is unbearable.
    I did talk with a surgeon and there is an operation available. I have a relative where his was so bad he almost died in his sleep because the acid from the stomach into his lungs. He had it done and was the first in the US to have it done orthoscopically and hasn’t had acid reflux since even though they told him it may not last.

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