Protonix is proton pump inhibitors marketed by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Pfizer, Inc. Side effects that may be associated with this heartburn medication include certain types of fractures, magnesium and B12 deficiency, and an acute kidney injury called interstitial nephritis. Research has also suggested that long-term use of proton pump inhibitors may be associated with an increased risk of kidney disease, renal (failure) and heart attacks.

What is Protonix Used For?

Protonix (pantoprazole) was approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration in 2000. It is currently indicated to

  • Short-term treatment of erosive esophagitis associated with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Maintenance of healing erosive esophagitis
  • Conditions associated with the production of excess stomach acid, including Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome

Protonix is not intended for immediate relief of heartburn symptoms.

Protonix Side Effects

Side effects associated with Protonix include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Rash
  • Abdominal pain
  • Flatulence
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Fractures of the hip, wrist or spine
  • C. diff infection
  • Acute interstitial nephritis
  • Allergic reaction

Protonix and other proton pump inhibitors have been linked to low magnesium levels. Patients should stop taking the medication and contact their doctor if they experience:

  • Fast or uneven heart rate
  • Jerking muscle movements
  • Feeling jittery
  • Diarrhea that is watery or bloody
  • Muscle cramps, muscle weakness or limp feeling
  • Cough or choking feeling
  • Headache, trouble concentrating, memory problems, weakness, loss of appetite, feeling unsteady, confusion, hallucinations, fainting, seizure, or shallow breathing.

Blood Vessel Aging Tied to Proton Pump Inhibitors

New research  suggests that extended use of  proton pump inhibitors may accelerate aging of blood vessels. According to a study published in Circulation Research in May 2016, this could explain the possible association between the drugs and certain serious complications, including heart attacks and kidney failure. Read More

Could Protonix Harm the Kidneys?

Since December 2014, the labels for Protonix and other proton pump inhibitors have included information about acute interstitial nephritis, an inflammation of the kidneys that has developed in some patients taking the medications. The condition must be recognized and treated promptly, otherwise kidney disease and even renal failure could result.

A number of studies have also suggested that people who regularly use Protonix and other proton pump inhibitors over an extended period of time may be more likely to suffer from chronic kidney disease or kidney failure. Read More

Protonix and the Heart

Research published in PLOS One suggested that proton pump inhibitors may raise the risk of heart attack. The June 2015 study analyzed medical records from 2.9 million patients who were using the drugs, and suggested that patients who take proton pump inhibitors had a 16 to 21% increased risk of having a heart attack.

Study Links Proton Pump Inhibitors to Dementia

In April 2016, research that appeared in JAMA Neurology suggested that seniors who regularly used proton pump inhibitors may be more likely to suffer from dementia. The authors cautioned that the findings did not prove cause-and-effect, as only randomized, prospective clinical trials will establish if such a relationship exists. Read More

  1. Pfizer (2014) “Protonix: Highlights of Prescribing Information”
  2. JAMA: Internal Medicine (2016) “Proton Pump Inhibitor Use and the Risk of Chronic Kidney Disease”
  3. PLOS One (2015) “Proton Pump Inhibitor Usage and the Risk of Myocardial Infarction in the General Population”
Last Modified: May 19, 2016

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