Contact A Lawyer
Have A Potential Case Reviewed By An Attorney
The findings of a recently released study indicate that women taking Nexium, Prilosec and other popular acid-fighting medications may face an increased risk of bone fractures. At the same time, another study appears to confirm beliefs that the drugs can increase a person’s susceptibility to bacterial infections.
The bone fracture study was conducted by the University of Washington’s School of Pharmacy, and published May 10 in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Researchers looked at the rate of bone fractures in post-menopausal women who take AstraZeneca’s Nexium, Takeda Pharmaceutical’s Prevacid or Pfizer’s Protonix.
All of the prescription ulcer drugs are in a class of medications known as proton pump inhibitors, which also includes Proctor & Gamble’s over-the-counter drug, Prilosec. The prescription drugs pull in about $14 billion in U.S. sales each year, and many are prescribed for indigestion and heart burn, although with the exception of Prilosec, they are only approved for treatment of ulcers, acid reflux disease and erosive esophagitis.
There were about 119 million prescriptions for proton pump inhibitors in the U.S. last year. In an editorial accompanying the study, Dr. Mitchell H. Katz of San Francisco’s Department of Public Health, estimated that as many as 69% of proton pump inhibitor prescriptions were written for “off-label” uses, which have not been approved as safe and effective by the FDA. Dr. Katz said that when the average person learns about the potential risks, they will not be as likely to take them unless absolutely necessary.
Researchers looked at 161,806 postmenopausal women between the ages of 50 and 79 years old with no history of hip fractures. The data was gleaned from the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) Observational Study and Clinical Trials. The findings indicate that women who took the medications were 25% more likely to suffer a bone fracture over an 8-year period than women who did not, however researchers were unable to find any changes in bone density between the two groups.
In the same issue of the medical journal, researchers found an increased risk of bacterial infection for people taking proton pump inhibitors as well. In that study, researchers looked at the records of about 102,000 patients at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and found that those taking drugs like Nexium and Prevacid had 74% more cases of Clostridium difficile infections.
The drugs contain warnings that the reduction of stomach acid may allow bacteria to grow and slightly increase the risk of infection.