Researchers in China have discovered another possible Nexium side effect. In a paper published online last month in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, they report that proton pump inhibitor usage among dementia patients appears to be associated with an increased incidence of pneumonia.
For their study, Sai-Wai Ho, MD, from the Chung Shan Medical University in Taichung, China, and colleagues analyzed data on 1,572 dementia patients, half of whom were new proton pump inhibitor users. The remaining had never taken the drugs.
“PPI usage in dementia patients is associated with an 89% increased risk of pneumonia,” the study authors concluded.
Age, male gender, underlying cerebrovascular disease, chronic pulmonary disease, congestive heart failure, diabetes mellitus, and antipsychotic use were all independent risk factors for pneumonia. Heart burn medications called H2 blockers (such as Zantac, Tagament) were associated with a lower risk of pneumonia, as were certain Alzheimer’s disease drugs called cholinesterase inhibitors.
This research is just the latest to associate Nexium and other proton pump inhibitors with serious health consequences, as other studies have suggested these drugs might increase a patient’s risk for dementia, bone fractures, magnesium deficiency, B12 deficiency, C. diff infections, heart attacks and stroke. Studies linking proton pump inhibitors to serious renal complications, including acute interstitial nephritis, chronic kidney disease, kidney failure and acute kidney injury, have also spawned a new wave of litigation involving t Nexium, Prilosec and PrevAcid.
Plaintiffs pursuing Nexium lawsuits and other proton pump inhibitor claims charge that the drug’s manufacturers have long been aware of reports linking their use to serous kidney injuries, and accuse the companies of failing to provide appropriate warnings to the public. Plaintiffs also contend that there exist a number of safer alternatives for treating GERD and acid reflux, and assert that they would never have used proton pump inhibitors had accurate warnings regarding their potential renal impacts been made available.
Last month, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation turned down a request from plaintiffs to centralize all federally-filed proton pump inhibitor lawsuits involving kidney complications in a single U.S. District Court. Despite this decision, filings continue to mount and cases are moving forward in courts throughout the country. If the litigation continues to grow, plaintiffs may make a second request for centralization.