Community-Acquired Pneumonia Risk Linked To Use of Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPI)

A new study warns that side effects of heartburn drugs like Nexium, Prilosec and Prevacid could increase the risk of community-acquired pneumonia (CAP), appearing to strengthen prior findings abou the infection risk associated with the medications.

Chinese researchers published findings late last month in the Annals of Pharmacotherapy, which suggests the use of the popular class of medications known as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) could increase the risk of pneumonia by more than 50% among some patient populations.

PPI medications include some of the best selling brand name drugs on the market in the United States, and are widely used by adults and children to reduce the amount of acid in the stomach, treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), heartburn, ulcers in the stomach and small intestines, and inflammation of the esophagus. In addition to Nexium, Prevacid and Prilosec, other brand names include Protonix, Zegerid, AcipHex, Dexilant and Vimovo.

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Proton Pump Inhibitor Lawsuits

Nexium, Prilosec and other acid reflux drug side effects may increase risk of kidney injury. Lawsuits reviewed.


In this latest study, Chinese researchers conducted a meta-analysis of previous studies and medical literature published between January 1, 2004 and February 1, 2021, involving an analysis of 13 different studies that included more than two million patients.

According to the findings, the incidence of community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) was higher among users of drugs like Nexium and Prilosec than among those who did not take PPIs, especially for those who took the drug for less than 30 days.

Overall, PPI users faced a 37% increased risk of pneumonia compared to non-users. That rate increased to 49% for those who took PPIs for less than 30 days. Additionally, the use of PPIs increased the risk of community-acquired pneumonia by 52% among those at risk of stroke, but did little to increase the risk among those who suffered liver disease.

“Using PPI could increase the risk of CAP when compared to not using PPI,” the researchers concluded. “PPI use increase the incidents of CPAP in patients with stroke. Clinicians and clinical pharmacists should weigh the benefits before medication and strictly control the indication of the prescription, so as to reduce adverse reactions.”

PPI Health Risks

This study is just the latest to tie the use of drugs like Nexium and Prilosec to unexpected health risks.

While the drugs are used by millions of Americans and widely viewed as safe, concerns in recent years have mostly focused on the failure to warn about the risk of kidney damage, kidney failure and gastic cancer.

There are currently more than 15,000 Nexium lawsuitsProtonix lawsuitsPrilosec lawsuitsPrevacid lawsuits  and claims over other PPIs pending in courts nationwide, each raising similar allegations that the manufacturers withheld information about the risks for years, placing the desire for profits ahead of consumer safety.

Given similar questions of fact and law raised in the complaints, consolidated pretrial proceedings have been established in the federal court system, where all PPI kidney damage lawsuits are centralized before U.S. District Judge Claire C. Cecchi in the District of New Jersey to reduce duplicative discovery into common issues, avoid conflicting pretrial rulings and serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the courts.


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