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Amid continuing concerns about various heartburn drugs, a new study does appear to clear up questions about whether users may face an increased risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPI) include some of the most widely recognized and prescribed drugs on the market in the U.S., including Nexium, Prilosec, Protonix, Prevacid, Dexilant and others. Since the drugs have previously been thought to carry few serious side effects, many individuals stay on the medications for long periods of time, without any effort to reduce use. However, in recent years, several independent studies have raised concerns about whether the medications may increase risk of various different injuries, including kidney damage, infections and dementia.
In a new study published earlier this month in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, researchers from Kaiser Permanente Washington indicate that they were unable to find any correlation between use of the medications and dementia, questioning the findings of prior studies.
The researchers examined data from the Adult Changes in Thought (ACT) study, involving nearly 3,500 adults ages 65 and older. The study identified patients who did not have dementia, and followed up for an average of 7.5 years, testing the patients every two years.
Researchers found that 827 of the participants, or nearly 24%, developed dementia over the course of the study, but exposure to drugs like Nexium, Prilosec, and Prevacid appeared to have no correlation to whether they developed dementia or Alzheimer’s diease, the data indicates.
“Proton pump inhibitor use was not associated with dementia risk, even for people with high cumulative exposure,” the researchers determined. “Although there are other safety concerns with long-term PPI use, results from our study do not support that these medications should be avoided out of concern about dementia risk.”
Their findings are similar to those published in July in Gastroenterology by researchers with Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. However, both studies appear to contradict other recent findings.
In February 2016, a study published in JAMA Neurology by German researchers indicated that PPIs were associated with a 44% increased risk of dementia among regular users, when compared to those who did not.
PPI Health Risks
One of the most serious risks recently linked to proton pump inhibitors include concerns about potential kidney injury side effects, with several recent studies suggesting that use of the heartburn drugs increases the risk of acute kidney injury, chronic kidney disease and potentially kidney failure.
In late 2014, the FDA added heartburn drug warnings about the risk of C. Diff associated diarrhea, and also indicated at that time that the medications have been linked to reports of acute interstitial nephritis, which involves kidney inflammation that may lead to more serious problems.
According to a study published by the medical journal CMAJ Open in April 2015, researchers indicated that users of Nexium, Prilosec or other heartburn drugs face an increased risk of kidney injury, which may lead to kidney failure.
This research was followed by a study published in the medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine in January 2016, which found that users also face an increased risk of chronic kidney disease from heartburn drugs.
Those 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.“
A number of individuals throughout the United States who have suffered acute kidney injury, chronic kidney disease or renal failure are now pursuing potential Nexium lawsuits, Prilosec lawsuits and other claims against makers of proton pump inhibitors (PPI), alleging that the risk of kidney problems should have been included among warnings provided to consumers and the medical community.