An estimated 15 million Americans are currently taking drugs like Nexium which work to control heartburn, indigestion, and acid reflux. Unfortunately, those who turn to Nexium and other Proton-pump inhibitors will need to proceed much more cautiously as studies have confirmed that taking these drugs increase the chance of kidney problems – and even kidney failure – by as much as fifty percent.
Proton-pump inhibitors are a class of drugs which include Nexium, Prilosec, and Prevacid which work by blocking the secretion of acid into the stomach. These extremely common medications are sold both by prescription and over-the-counter. The recent discovery of this increased risk of chronic kidney disease and even failure means that much more care must be taken in determining if a person should be popping the purple pill.
The issue with Nexium and other drugs in its class is that since their creation in the 1980s, they were considered to be very safe, with no real side effects. This led to the popularity of the drug and a much more lax attitude about taking large doses and prescribing it to any and all patients with reflux issues.
It is very possible that these drugs, prescribed and taken in such massive numbers, are being over-prescribed. Studies have suggested that as many as 75 percent of those who take proton-pump inhibitors need not do so.
In addition to being connected to chronic kidney disease, Nexium and other drugs like it have been linked to increased rates of heart attack, bone fracture, and infections of the gut.
The research was conducted by Johns Hopkins University and it studied over 250,000 patients to reach its conclusion that Nexium and proton-pump inhibitors increase the rate of kidney disease. Researchers concluded that doctors and patients should take a greater degree of caution when prescribing and purchasing proton-pump inhibitors, but say that further research is needed to draw stronger connections between the drugs and the disease. Doctors recommend that patients first try to control their acid issues by changing their diet and creating a healthier lifestyle.
Over 13 percent of the population suffer from kidney disease. A case of chronic kidney disease, if prolonged, can lead to kidney failure and the necessity of a kidney transplant, a dangerous and invasive surgery.
With 15 million Americans currently taking these drugs, it is clearly a massive market for big pharma. As of now, the companies that produce proton-pump inhibitors have either declined to comment on the study or have maintained that their drugs are safe to take according to the label.