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Nexium, Prilosec Kidney Disease Risks Highlighted by Consumer Reports

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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.

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22 comments

  1. James Reply

    I have been on prilosec since 2001. Acid reflex gave me a cancerous tumor on my right vocal cord. 39 radiation treatments got rid of it. The doc put me on prilosec for the rest of my life. I now have a cyst on my right kidney and I have stopped taking prilosec because of what I have read about it. I also had occasional right kidney pain but I ignored it. I am 72 years old.

  2. Sharon Reply

    I have been on Nexium for 15 years and when I tried to go off, my heartburn was really bad!
    Any suggestions on how to ween off them and what could be used in it`s place?

  3. David Reply

    Been taking prilosec from day 1 , can’t go 1day with out it ,or I’m in great pain ,like a heart attack ,can’t eat hardly Anything ,deep lain in chest ,

  4. Randy Reply

    My wife has had chronic stomach hyper acidity her whole life. Taking handfuls of Tums for 50 years calcified her kidneys and her kidney function is in the low 20% range. So 5 years ago she switched to Prilosec…and now you’re telling me that Prilosec will make her kidneys worse? What is left that is safe to combat all this hyper acidity?

  5. Sergio Reply

    I’ve been taking omeoprazole for 5+ years and now am very concerned!

  6. Pauline Reply

    I have used these produces and was stricken with kidney cancer in 2008

  7. Lisa Reply

    I have been taking Nexium over a year now, and Prilosec 3 years before that.
    If I stop taking the medicine, the pain on a daily basis is excruciating at times. Now what do I do??

  8. Elizabeth Reply

    I have been on these for over 40 years, I know I can’t be without them, have been treated for cancerous lesions about 20 years ago, now might have to do it again, what else can we take, I’m 73 and hope to be here another 10 years at least.

  9. Tammy Reply

    I have been on these meds for years. Miss a few days, and it takes days of twice a day doses to get back to comfort. I will be seeking the advice of a holistic doctor. The horrible job the FDA does, along with the targeted deception by big pharma, is one reason we’ll never have cures for most of our afflictions. Ugh.

  10. Mary Reply

    I’ve been taking prilosec for close to 10 years for GERD and IBS. I started to be concern as I noticed a change in my urine a few years back. I have been trying to ween off the prilosec by taking it every other day but my heartburn gets bad on the days that I don’t take it. My GI Dr. just keeps telling me to continue taking it.

  11. Sandy Reply

    I found that Omneprazole was causing my thighs to hurt so much I had difficulty getting up after sitting. After over 15 years on Omneprazole, I found that taking Famotidine (Pepcid AC) as needed allowed me to quit. Now I just take one Famotidine at night.

  12. Linda Reply

    My mother was taking more then a quadruple dose. Her doctor protested but since that is over the counter she ignored him. In November 2014 she wanted to go to the hospital. In the ER the doctor came out and said she had kidney failure. Her lungs were filling up as a result. She died six days later. She had other health problems, true, but I can’t help but wonder if her large doses of Prilosec were a contributor. She was seventy seven.

  13. Agatha Reply

    I’ve been on omprazole for more than 15 years. I quit taking it about a week ago and started on Zantac. I’m taking 300mg in the morning and 300mg in the evening with tums in between. I have a constant burn in my stomach. I don’t know what I’m going to do.

  14. Susana Reply

    I’ve been taken Prilosec for a while and after learning of the kidney failure problems that it causes I stopped taking it. I haven’t visit my doctor since then but I read a lot of alternative medicine books and I decided on my own taking from Whole food stores a liquid formula to balance acidity. It is called Lily of the Desert, formula for balance your stomach acidity. It is a aloe herbal liquid. I’m not a doctor to recommend it to anybody but since it is a natural formula I thought it would not hurt. I also take lots of green tea and water which helps to balance stomach acidity. I also take more care of the foods that I eat and I know wil produce for sure stomach acididity. I don’t have a magic solution but for sure I won’t take any pharma medicine and I won’t accept on my next visit to the doctor another chemical prescription with another name to find out in a few years that will cause me a cancer in some part of my body.

  15. evelyn Reply

    I was taking Nexium for years found out I have Nash it effect my liver and low blood plates , read the side effect of Nexium and you will see . went off my self it was hard but I am trying to save what I can of my liver , no doc will do surgery because it to had on my liver

  16. Pat Reply

    I’ve been taking omeprazole for probably 10 years for what my Dr. Said was acid reflux. I’m 65 and had no problems. I consider myself pretty healthy. Last year woke up and couldn’t pee… literally. Thought it was a UTI. Lasted a day then got better after a week of lots of fluids etc. Six months later it happened again. Lasted longer so went to Dr. No UTI. Went to urologist. Tests cat scans ultrasound x-ray etc. Bladder and kidneys checked. Nothing found so no answer on what caused issue and what to do if it happens again. Things are not as they were before the first episode. Have stopped the omeprazole and it’s hard to deal with the acid but will be discussing this with my Dr. at my physical in October.

  17. Sue Reply

    I have a friend who used these for years and I am really concerned about her. These drugs are killing people and the pharmaceutical companies advertise them heavily. People need to stop taking so many drugs.

  18. Katherine Reply

    Ask your doctor if he can ween you off it. I’m 22 and have been taking it for a year. The first six months, it was twice a day. Then once a day for three months. I am currently taking it once every other day until the next three months is up. My doctor also suggested I avoid contact with allergens (mold) and change my diet and exercise more. He sad to avoid processed foods, fake sugar, too much sugar, no soda, no caffeine, no acidic foods or drinks. I also have to make sure I don’t get too stressed. Please try these methods and see what combination works for you. 🙂

  19. Judy Reply

    I have been on Tagamet prilasec and nexium for more than 20 years and would like advice on how to get off them.

  20. Glenn Reply

    I have been on one PPI or another forever 10 yrs. I have tried many times to get off them. I seem to be having some success with Zantac150mg twice a day and simethicone 2 chewable tabs with meals and at bedtime. I also take Pepcid Complete or Tums for breakthrough heartburn. The key seems to be simethicone for me. I had tried many times before without it to no avail. I would begin by lowering your Nexium, Prilosec, etc to once every two days and use the Zantac while you are weaning off the Nexium.

  21. Arthur Reply

    My gastro doctor put me on Nexium in 2002. I took it regularly for 14 years. He said it had been used in Europe for 10 years with no serious side effects. I stopped taking it and changed my diet but still get heartburn easily. I am very sad to hear that people are having kidney failure. I have not had problems and fought thyroid cancer. I am Cancer free but now worried about kidney problems. I hope that those taking the medicine wil be able to avoid kidney failure. The side effects should of been made public.

  22. Teresa Reply

    I have been on prilosec for several years. How am i to know if it will cause me issues. My only issue right now is becoming less able to control my need to go. I was told that was from having kids.

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