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By: Marilyn McGoldrick, Esq.

Popular acid reflux drugs like Nexium, Prilosec, and Prevacid — classified as Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) — may lead to an increased risk of chronic kidney disease, according to a recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

The study found that PPI users have a 20 to 50 percent higher risk of chronic kidney disease (CKD) than nonusers. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore examined large sets of data on over 250,000 patients: 10,482 participants in the Artherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study and 248,751 outpatient PPI prescription patients in the Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania.

The study notes that more than 15 million people in the U.S. t0ok prescription PPIs in 2013, at a cost of over $10 billion dollars.

PPIs treat heartburn and acid reflux by stopping the cells in the stomach from producing acid. This study did not find elevated rates of kidney disease when they looked at users of H2 blockers like Pepcid, Tagamet or Zantac. H2 blockers treat acid reflux and heartburn in a different way, by blocking histamine production in the cells that line the stomach.

While PPIs have been on the market since the 1980s, concerns have arisen over their safety in recent years. Researchers have suggested links between PPIs and heart attacks, as well as infection risks to hospitalized patients. The FDA issued warnings in 2010 that prescription strength PPIs may raise a patient’s risk of bone fracture.

The Johns Hopkins researchers noted that their study does not prove that PPIs cause kidney disease. Actual clinical trials would have to be conducted to make that conclusion. But physicians may exercise more caution in prescribing PPIs in light of this study. Gastroenterologist Dr. Arun Swaminath, director of the inflammatory bowel disease program at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said “We have started to limit the time you have to be on it, and limit the amount you take.”

If you are taking a PPI it is important that your kidney function be carefully monitored. If you have been diagnosed with chronic kidney disease after taking a prescription PPI, call the defective drug lawyers at Thornton Law Firm for a free consultation. You can tell us your story online or call Attorney Marilyn McGoldrick at 1-888-341-1405 for a confidential, no-obligation evaluation of your legal rights.