A recent study has raised new concerns about the safety of Nexium and other Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs). The paper, which was published in the January 11th issue of JAMA: Internal Medicine, suggested that patients who use these popular heart burn drugs might face a 20 to 50% higher risk of kidney disease.
According to the authors of the study, Nexium and other PPIs, including Prilosec and PrevAcid, were used by more than 15 million Americans in 2013. They are sold as both prescription drugs, and as over-the-counter version, such as Nexium24HR, Prilosec OTC and PrevAcid 24Hr. Despite their popularity, these medications are not without risk, as previous research has linked PPIs to bone fractures, pneumonia and Clostridium difficile infection.
For this study, scientists at Johns Hopkins University looked at data regarding PPI use reported by 10,000 patients enrolled in a nationwide study on hardening of the arteries. They also analyzed data on outpatient PPI prescriptions involving nearly 250,000 patents supplied by a Pennsylvania health system.
The analyses of both sets of data suggested that the use of Nexium and other PPIs was associated with an increased risk of chronic kidney disease over 10 years. Those who used the drugs twice per day had a 46% increased risk, while those who used PPIs once per day faced a 15% increased risk. PPI users had a 39% higher risk of chronic kidney disease compared to those using H2 blockers like Zantac.
It’s already known that long-term use of PPIs can result in low serum magnesium levels. Magnesium is vital to kidney function, and it is possible a deficiency of this mineral could lead to kidney damage.
The authors of the study conceded that their findings don’t prove a casual link between PPIs and kidney disease. But in an interview with the New York Times, the study’s lead author recommended that patients who required a longer course of PPI treatment undergo routine monitoring of kidney function.
The study authors also voiced concern that PPIs are being overused, noting that as many as 70% of these prescriptions might be inappropriate. They recommended that future research focus on whether or not limiting the use of PPIs reduces the risk of chronic kidney disease.