Even as Nexium lawsuits continue to mount over the medication’s alleged kidney side effects, new research is pointing to additional complications associated with its use. According to scientists writing in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, use of Nexium and other heartburn drugs may increase the likelihood of dangerous stomach infections, including C. difficile and Campylobacter.
The study involved nearly 565,000 Scottish adults, including 188,000 who had been given at least one prescription for a proton pump inhibitor or an H2 blocker, such as Zantac. The remainder had not been prescribed a heartburn medication. On average, people using an acid-suppressing drug were roughly four times more likely to develop a Campylobacter infection and 70% more likely to develop C. diff.
The authors of the study surmised that the reduction of acid brought about by proton pump inhibitors and H2 blockers could make patients more susceptible to gut bacteria, resulting in the increase risk of infection.
In 2012, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) warned of a potential link between proton pump inhibitors and C. diff-associated diarrhea. The agency suggested that doctors consider a diagnosis of C. diff-associated diarrhea in patients taking proton pump inhibitors if they develop diarrhea that does not improve.
This research is just the most recent to point to harmful side effects potentially associated with the use of proton pump inhibitors. In recent years, multiple studies have suggested that long-term treatment with Nexium Prilosec, PrevAcid and others in this class could harm the kidneys. In April 2015, for example, a study published in CMAJ Open linked proton pump inhibitors to a 3-fold increase in the risk for acute interstitial nephritis, as well as a 2.5 times higher risk of acute kidney injury.
Last April, a study published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology reported that long-term users of proton pump inhibitors may be 96% more likely to develop kidney failure and 28% more likely to develop chronic kidney disease compared to patients using another class of heartburn drugs called H2-blockers. Research that appeared in JAMA Internal Medicine last January also suggested that proton pump inhibitors might increase the risk of chronic kidney disease by as much as 50%.
In 2014, the FDA required the makers of prescription proton pump inhibitors to add new information regarding acute interstitial nephritis to their product labels. This sudden inflammation of the kidney tubules is often the result of an allergic reaction to a medication that, if left untreated, can progress to kidney disease and even renal failure.