Research Links Popular Heartburn Drug ‘Nexium’ with Kidney Disease and Renal Failure

18 July 2017

According to researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) cause more harm than good. Therefore, these drugs ought to be avoided at all costs. Prolonged usage of PPIs triggers the onset and progression of renal problems. PPIs are generally antacids used to relieve heartburn. The medication retails under several brand names namely Nexium, Protonix, Prilosec, and Prevacid.

A follow-up study involving 125K patients, however, refutes these claims. The new research found that the renal damage symptoms mostly went unnoticed while the patients were on the drugs. The researchers at WASHU and the Veterans Affairs St. Louis Health Care System urged doctors to remain extra vigilant on who they put on the PPIs medication.

Dangers of OTC PPIs

According to the lead researcher at WASHU Medical School, Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly, kidney complications from the sustained use of PPIs often take some time to become manifest in many patients. Antacids like Nexium are meant to be used only as a last measure. Statistics show that over 15 million Americans suffer from ulcers, acid reflux, and heartburn, annually. Many Americans often resort to buying antacids like Nexium over-the-counter to relieve the acidity-related complications. More information can be found on: Nexium lawsuit.

According to Yan Xie, a lead biostatistician at WASHU Medical School, H2 blockers are less likely to damage the kidneys of the patients as opposed to the PPIs. However, the B2 blockers are less effective in combating gastric acid reflux, heartburn, and ulcers. Patients on PPIs are at a 20% bigger risk of developing renal issues as compared to those on popular H2 blocker medications like Pepcid and Zantac.

Subsequent studies showed no side-effects in up to 80% of the PPIs users. Problems mostly arose in patients that had existing renal conditions before starting the medication. On the other hand, up to 7.6% of all patients using the H2 blockers suffered chronic renal problems. And, 1.27% ended up with end-stage kidney failure that required dialysis or transplant intervention.

Diet Changes

In his remarks, the chief researcher at VA’s Clinical Epidemiology Center, called on physicians to first attempt using diet to cure the heightened acid levels in patients. There are plenty of foods which act to raise the pH levels of our stomachs. Use them and avoid putting extra pressure on your vital kidney organs.

Comprehensive kidney tests are mandatory before placing any patients on the antacid medication. The physicians should continue monitoring the progress of the patient’s kidneys during the treatment. In case the expert notices any slight deviation from the norm in the kidney function, the medication should stop, immediately.

Signs of Renal Problems

Doctor should always be on the lookout for tell-tale signs of diminished kidney function. The signs include swollen legs, feet and ankles, nausea and impaired urination. These are the classic symptoms of acute renal problems.

Side-Effects of PPIs

In addition to PPIs causing kidney diseases, they also cause gut infections and pneumonia. Plus, the patients tend to suffer from impaired Vitamin B12 and magnesium production. The Canadian Ministry of Health has already issued strict guidelines on the use of the PPIs in the nation. The ministry’s directive states that PPIs should be given in the lowest dosages and only when necessary.