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Consumer Reports has joined a growing number of safety advocates to warn about the potential risk of kidney problems linked to side effects of Nexium, Prilosec and similar heartburn drugs, after recent studies have found that users may face an increased risk of chronic kidney disease, acute kidney injury and other serious health problems.
The consumer watchdog group published two reports last week. The first highlights the risk of kidney damage from proton pump inhibitors, which include some of the most widely used drugs in the U.S. The other report urges caution before starting Nexium, Prilosec or other similar heartburn medications, indicating that the drugs can be hard to stop once starting treatment.
Proton pump inhibitors have been used by millions of Americans, working by reducing the amount of acid in the stomach to treat symptoms of heartburn, GERD and other stomach conditions. Because the drugs have been thought to carry few serious side effects, many individuals stay on the heartburn medications for years, often with no efforts by doctors to reduce or eliminate use. However, a number of studies have emerged over the past year that suggest there is a link between Nexium and kidney risks, including acute interstitial nephritis, acute kidney injury, chronic kidney disease and end-stage kidney failure.
Consumer Reports cites a study published in April, 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.
The group’s article on when to consider a PPI warns that the drugs should not be taken long-term, as that is when the most severe problems seem to arise. However, the group noted that quitting use of PPIs can result in a rebound effect, where heartburn problems may return worse than before, often causing the user to start using the drugs again for relief. This can result in a daily dependency that increases the risk of side effects.
However, the group noted that for patients who have an actual diagnosis for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which can damage the lining of the esophagus, the benefits still usually outweigh the risks.
Nexium Kidney Disease Risks
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.
In 2014, a study published by researchers from the University of Findlay College of Pharmacy noted that not only was overuse and abuse of heartburn drugs widespread, but many who take the drugs do so for longer than four years. The study noted that this increases the risk of any side effects associated with the drugs, but it also has a large economic impact as well.
As more individuals learn that the popular medications may have caused them to suffer renal failure, kidney disease or other kidney problems, a growing number of Nexium lawsuits, Prilosec lawsuits, Prevacid lawsuits and other product liability lawsuits are being pursued against makers of the medications, alleging that consumers and the medical community have not been adequately warned about the risks.
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.
Given the large number of users throughout the United States, it is expected that thousands of cases may be filed in the coming months as acid reflux drug injury lawyers continue to review and file cases.