A new study is pointing to another concerning proton pump inhibitor side effect – iron deficiency.
Proton pump inhibitors – including Nexium, Prilosec, and PrevAcid — are some of the most widely-used drugs in the world.
In 2013, in fact, more than 15 million Americans were prescribed Nexium or another medication in this class to treat GERD or other acid-related digestive disorders.
Millions more rely on the drugs’ over-the-counter counterparts.
Because they have become so ubiquitous, many people believe they can take Nexium and similar medications for a long period of time without any adverse health consequences.
Unfortunately, a growing body of evidence suggests that chronic proton pump inhibitor use can lead to kidney failure and other renal complications, bone fractures, stomach cancer, dementia, and nutrition deficiencies, including B12 deficiency and low magnesium levels.
Proton pump inhibitors also suppress acid secretions in the stomach. While gastric acid is vital to iron absorption, past data regarding long-term use and iron deficiency has been inconclusive.
Iron deficiency is a the most common cause of anemia, a serious condition that affects more than 2 billion people around the world. Anemia can lead to serious health problems if it goes untreated. The most serious cases can even lead to death.
For this study, researchers in Australia analyzed data on more than 50,000 patients. They found that continuous use of a proton pump inhibitor for over a year increased the risk for iron deficiency. Those who took a 20 mg tablet or more daily had a higher risk of iron deficiency compared with people using less than one tablet daily.
The authors of the study, which was published on August 23rd by the Journal of Internal Medicine, concluded that chronic proton pump inhibitor use can increase a patient’s risk for iron deficiency. They advised physicians to consider this potential side effect when prescribing the drugs.
In December 2014, the labels for prescription proton pump inhibitors were updated to note that the medications had been linked to reports of acute interstitial nephritis, a serious kidney disorder that can progress to chronic kidney disease and kidney failure if it is not recognized and treated in a timely manner.
However, the drugs’ labels include no other kidney warnings, despite studies that have linked long-term proton pump inhibitor use to a heightened risk of kidney failure, chronic kidney disease, and acute kidney injury.
For this reason, thousands of proton pump inhibitor lawsuits have been filed in U.S. courts on behalf of individuals who allegedly suffered serious kidney problem following chronic use of Nexium, Prilosec, PrevAcid, Dexilant, and Protonix. Among other things, plaintiffs claim that the drugs’ manufacturers have long concealed evidence of these serious renal side effects from the public and failed to provide doctors and patients with adequate warnings of these risks. Plaintiffs further allege that there injuries could have been avoided had proper warnings been made available.
More than 2,300 proton pump inhibitor kidney lawsuits have been consolidated in a multidistrict litigation now underway in the U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey. Similar claims are pending in various state courts, including Delaware, Missouri, Pennsylvania, and Louisiana.