Proton Pump Inhibitor Users 3-Times More Likely to Develop Chronic Kidney Disease, Kidney Failure: Study

Published on November 7, 2017 by Sandy Liebhard

Yet another study is pointing to a possible link between proton pump inhibitors and an increased risk of kidney problems.

The study, which was presented on Saturday at the annual meeting of the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) in New Orleans, Louisiana, suggested that patients who rely on drugs like Nexium, Prilosec, or PrevAcid to control heartburn symptoms may be 3-times more likely to develop kidney failure or chronic kidney disease compared to non-users.

New Metanalysis Involved 5 Earlier Proton Pump Inhibitor Studies, 536,902 Patients

A number of recent studies have raised concerns that proton pump inhibitors might harm the kidneys. However, results have so far been inconsistent.

To further investigate the potential link, researchers at the Bassett Medical Center in Cooperstown, New York, conducted a meta-analysis of five studies involving 536,902 participants, all of which examined the risk of chronic kidney disease or kidney failure among users and non-users of proton pump inhibitors.

Individuals who used proton pump inhibitors had a 33% increased relative risk of chronic kidney disease or kidney failure when compared with non-users.

“This study demonstrates a significant association between the use of PPIs and increased risks of chronic kidney disease and kidney failure,” the study’s lead author said in a statement. “Although no causal relationship has been proven, providers should consider whether PPI therapy is indicated for patients. Chronic use of PPIs should be avoided if not really indicated.”

Proton Pump Inhibitors & Kidney Complications

In 2013, more than 15 million Americans were prescribed proton pump inhibitors to treat symptoms associated with the excess production of stomach acid. However, a growing body of research has linked their long-term use to a number of serious renal side effects, including:

  • Kidney failure
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Acute kidney injury
  • Acute interstitial nephritis

These studies include:

  • An April 2015 CMAJ Open study that 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.
  • A January 2016 study published JAMA Internal Medicine  suggested that proton pump inhibitors might increase the risk of chronic kidney disease by as much as 50%.
  • An April 2016 paper that appeared in Journal of the American Society of Nephrology in 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 H2-blockers.

All proton pump inhibitor labels were updated in late 2014 to include mention of acute interstitial nephritis. However, no other kidney-related modifications have been made to their labels since then.

Proton Pump Inhibitor Lawsuits

Following publication of these studies, plaintiffs began filing proton pump inhibitor lawsuits in courts around the nation. A federal multidistrict litigation established in the U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey, currently houses around 275 lawsuits involving Nexium, Prilosec, PrevAcid, Dexilant and Protonix.

Additional cases have been filed in various state courts, including Delaware, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Louisiana.

Plaintiffs involved in this litigation claim that proton pump inhibitor manufacturers have long concealed evidence linking the medications to serious kidney complications and failed to provide doctors and patients with appropriate safety warnings. They further assert that they could have avoided these kidney side effects had they received adequate notice from the drugs’ makers.

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