Another new study is pointing to a link between proton pump inhibitors and serious renal complications, suggesting that those who take the popular heartburn drugs face a significantly increased risk for chronic kidney disease and kidney failure.
Proton pump inhibitors, including Nexium, Prilosec, and PrevAcid, are among the most widely-prescribed drugs in the world. While they are only intended for the short-term treatment of GERD and other acid-related gastric disorders, chronic use is common and some estimates suggest as many as 70% of all proton pump inhibitor prescriptions lack an appropriate indication.
For this latest study, researchers at the University of Buffalo obtained the medical histories of 190,000 patients without pre-existing kidney disease who were enrolled in a Western New York HMO from 1993-2008.
They compared kidney health between those who were prescribed proton pump inhibitors and those who were never exposed to the medications. Drugs examined during the study included esomeprazole (Vimovo), lansoprazole (PrevAcid), omeprazole (Prilosec), pantoprazole (Protonix, Pfizer) and rabeprazole (Aciphex).
According to the study authors, patients treated with proton pump inhibitors were 20% more likely to develop chronic kidney disease compared to those who did not use the drugs. They were also four times more likely to develop kidney failure. The risk was highest among patients at least 65 years old.
“This study adds to a growing list of concerning side effects and adverse outcomes associated with PPIs,” lead investigator David Jacobs, PharmD, PhD, said in a statement announcing the findings.
“Given the increasing global use of PPIs, the relationship between PPIs and renal disease could pose a substantial disease and financial burden to the health care system and public health.”
More than 8,400 proton pump inhibitor lawsuits are pending in a multidistrict litigation now underway in New Jersey federal court. The majority of these cases were filed on behalf of patients who allegedly developed kidney complications due to the long-term use of Nexium, Prilosec, or PrevAcid.
The complaints cite, among other things, a growing body of scientific research that has recently linked proton pump inhibitor treatment to chronic kidney disease, kidney failure, acute kidney injury, and acute interstitial nephritis. Plaintiffs claims that the drugs’ manufacturers have received hundreds of additional reports linking proton pump inhibitors to serious kidney problems, but failed to warn patients and doctors about this risk.
The federal litigation will begin convening bellwether trials in September 2020. Because they are intended as test cases, verdicts in these bellwether trials could provide insight into how other juries will decide similar proton pump inhibitor lawsuits.