A recent study is raising additional concerns about the side effects possibly linked with Nexium and other proton pump inhibitors. The research, which was presented earlier this summer at the annual Digestive Disease Week conference, suggested that proton pump inhibitors might be associated with an increased risk for pancreatic cancer.
According to Gastroenterology & Endoscopy News, the authors of the study identified 4,113 patients with pancreatic cancer and 16,072 matched controls from the health Improvement Network, a medical records database representative of the U.K. population.
After adjusting for body mass index, smoking, alcohol use and diabetes, the investigators found that both active and former proton pump inhibitor users had an increased risk for pancreatic cancer. They also found “a modest decrease” in survival following pancreatic cancer diagnosis in short-term, active users (those who received their first proton pump inhibitor prescription less than 12 months before starting the study).
“[PPIs] are a medication that’s often prescribed and continued without giving it a great deal of thought,” Malcolm Kearns, MD, a member of the research team and internal medicine resident at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, said. “So I hope that our study at least makes somebody think twice about refilling a prescription, or think to ask their patient if they’re really benefiting from it or suggest trialing off of their PPI.”
Proton pump inhibitors, including Nexium, Prilosec and PrevAcid, among others, are indicated for the short-term treatment of GERD and other peptic disorders related to the excess production of gastric acid. While more than 15 million Americans used prescription proton pump inhibitors in 2013, it has been estimated that between 25% and 70% of these prescriptions have no appropriate indication.
While most people give little thought to the side effects potentially associated with these drugs, recent studies have tied long-term proton pump inhibitor use to kidney failure and other renal complications, while other research has suggested they might increase an individual’s risk for heart attacks, bone fractures, dementia, stomach infections, and pneumonia.
Nearly 200 proton pump inhibitors lawsuits have been centralized in a multidistrict litigation established last month in New Jersey federal court, all of which were filed on behalf of individuals who suffered kidney failure, chronic kidney disease, and other renal complications allegedly related to their use of Nexium and other drugs in this class.
Plaintiffs involved in this litigation claim that the manufacturers of Nexium, Prilosec, PrevAcid, Dexilant, and Protonix have long concealed evidence linking their products to serious kidney side effects and failed to provide doctors and patients with appropriate safety warnings. Plaintiffs further assert that they could have avoided kidney failure, chronic kidney disease, and other renal problems had they received adequate notice of these risks.