A newly published study is pointing to a link between proton pump inhibitors like Nexium and certain potentially fatal conditions, including gastrointestinal cancer, kidney damage, and heart problems.
Even worse, the findings suggest these Nexium side effects could greatly increase an individual’s risk of premature death.
In examining medical records from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs from mid-2002 to mid-2004, the study authors examined 157,625 patients who had taken Nexium or another proton pump inhibitor, along with 56,842 others who used H2 blockers.
Over the next decade, the death rate in the proton pump inhibitor group was 387 for every 1,000 patients, compared to 342 for those taking H2 blockers. That’s equivalent to a 17% increased risk of death.
The findings also showed extra deaths per thousand from heart disease, chronic kidney disease, and stomach cancer.
More than 80% of the proton pump inhibitors patients were taking low doses of the drugs, and more than half were prescribed the medications in the absence of a true medical need.
“This suggests the risk may not be limited to prescription PPIs, but it also may occur at over the counter doses,” said senior author Ziyad Al-Aly, MD, an assistant professor of medicine at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
“PPIs sold over the counter should have a clearer warning about potential for significant health risks, as well as a clearer warning about the need to limit length of use, generally not to exceed 14 days,” he continued. “People who feel the need to take over-the-counter PPIs longer than this need to see their doctors.”
Previous studies have suggested that Nexium side effects may also include certain types of bone fractures, kidney failure, vitamin B12 deficiency, low magnesium levels, and increased risk for dementia.
More than 5,100 proton pump inhibitor lawsuits are currently pending in New Jersey federal court, most of which were filed on behalf of patients who claim extended use of Nexium, Prilosec, PrevAcid, Protonix, and Dexilant harmed their kidneys. However, a growing number of filings also claim the drugs caused gastrointestinal cancer.
Hundreds of similar claims have been filed in Delaware, Missouri, Pennsylvania, and Louisiana state courts.