Millions of people in the United States suffer from heartburn and acid reflux, and the most popular type of medication prescribed to block stomach acid and relieve these conditions is called a proton pump inhibitor (PPI). Among the most popular PPIs prescribed to treat heartburn, acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) are Nexium, Prilosec and Prevacid, and a growing body of research has shown that these medications may increase users’ risk of serious side effects, including dementia, heart attack, kidney disease and bone fractures. If you took Nexium or another PPI to treat your heartburn or acid reflux, and you have since suffered one or more devastating complications, contact a knowledgeable Nexium attorney today for legal help.
In light of increasing concerns about the alleged side effects of Nexium and other proton pump inhibitors, many patients are looking for alternative treatments for their heartburn and acid reflux. The following are some natural treatment options for patients who want to reduce their symptoms of acid reflux and heartburn without putting themselves at risk for dementia or other devastating side effects:
A proton pump inhibitor prescribed to relieve symptoms of heartburn or acid reflux that may increase the risk of dementia by as much as 44%.
Nexium (esomeprazole) belongs to a class of drugs called proton pump inhibitors, which are commonly prescribed to relieve symptoms of acid reflux, heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease, treat a stomach ulcer, or treat damage to the lower esophagus caused by acid reflux. Proton pump inhibitors, a group of medications which also includes Prilosec (omeprazole) and Prevacid (lansoprazole), work by reducing the amount of stomach acid produced by the glands in the lining of the stomach. Nexium was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2001, and the acid reflux medication is currently manufactured by AstraZeneca, although in 2012, Pfizer bought the rights to the over-the-counter version of Nexium from AstraZeneca.
Research has shown that stomach acid is essential to the body’s ability to properly digest food, protect against infection and absorb calcium, vitamin B-12 and other nutrients, and heartburn medications like Nexium that are designed to block stomach acid may actually have a serious adverse effect on patients’ health. Among the side effects potentially linked to the use of Nexium and other proton pump inhibitors are:
People typically take proton pump inhibitors like Nexium, Prilosec and Prevacid to treat heartburn, gastroesophageal disease or acid reflux, but experts say many of these problems can be resolved without the use of potentially harmful medications. In many cases, symptoms of heartburn and acid reflux can be relieved with lifestyle changes like weight loss or simply avoiding certain foods.
Previous research had linked heartburn drugs like Nexium to kidney disease and bone fractures, but a more recent study published in the medical journal JAMA Neurology in February 2016, shows that the medications may also significantly increase the risk of dementia among patients 75 and older who take proton pump inhibitors regularly. The researchers involved in this study also found that women taking Nexium for 18 months or longer were most at risk for dementia side effects. Doctors warn that side effects of Nexium and other heartburn drugs may occur because our bodies actually need stomach acid to perform numerous functions, including warding off infection, digesting our food and absorbing essential nutrients like calcium, iron and zinc.
The biggest concern with Nexium lies in the potential for patients to stay on the drugs for too long, and some doctors say that individuals with mild heartburn or acid reflux should consider discontinuing PPI treatment to reduce their risk of side effects. According to researchers involved in the JAMA Neurology study, Nexium and other PPIs appear to have an effect on levels of amyloid beta and tau, which are proteins associated with Alzheimer’s disease, and can also lead to a vitamin B-12 deficiency, which has been linked to cognitive decline. For patients who want to wean off PPIs, experts recommend eating smaller meals, avoiding caffeine and chocolate, and remaining upright for a few hours following each meal.
Recent research has also examined the potential connection between Nexium use and kidney damage, and in a study published in the medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine in February 2016, researchers concluded that Nexium and other proton pump inhibitors may be linked to an increased risk of long-term kidney damage. In fact, according to the study, conducted by lead researcher Dr. Morgan Grams, assistant professor of epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, people who use proton pump inhibitors may face a 20% to 50% higher risk of chronic kidney disease compared to nonusers. The researchers also noted in that study that, the longer Nexium and similar medications were taken, the greater the risk of kidney damage, yet they found that 25% of long-term proton pump inhibitor users could discontinue treatment without suffering increased heartburn or acid reflux.
April 2011 – An Ohio woman files a Nexium lawsuit against AstraZeneca, alleging that the heartburn drug caused her to suffer bone deterioration and bone fractures.
September 2011 – AstraZeneca faces a Nexium lawsuit filed by two people from Texas, who allege that side effects of the acid reflux medication caused them to suffer bone deterioration and broken bones.
December 2012 – The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) establishes an MDL for federal lawsuits brought over bone fracture side effects from Nexium, consolidating at least 47 Nexium injury lawsuits.
January 2013 – A product liability lawsuit is filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, on behalf of more than 500 plaintiffs who claim that they suffered fractures and serious bone problems from Nexium.
December 2013 – The Massachusetts federal court approves a class, which includes any person or business “who purchased Nexium directly from AstraZeneca at any time during the period from Aug. 27, 2008 through Dec. 11, 2013.”
April 2014 – Public Citizen files a lawsuit against the FDA, calling for the agency to require black box warnings on the labels of proton pump inhibitors, regarding the risk of side effects associated with the popular medications.
February 2015 – AstraZeneca reaches a $20 million settlement agreement in a Nexium class action lawsuit brought over claims that the drug maker deceptively marketed its blockbuster heartburn drug.
February 2015 – The U.S. Justice Department announces that AstraZeneca will pay $7.9 million to resolve allegations that the drug maker engaged in a kickback scheme involving Nexium.
June 2015 – A $24 million class action settlement is reached between Teva Pharmaceuticals and plaintiffs, who accused the drug maker of taking part in a pay-for-delay deal to keep generic versions of Nexium off the market.
May 2010 – The FDA issues a news release warning against long-term use of high-dose proton pump inhibitor medications, which the agency says could increase the risk of wrist, hip and spine fractures.
May 2010 – The FDA revises the drug label for proton pump inhibitors, to include a warning about a possible increased risk of fractures of the spine, hip and wrist.
March 2011 – Long-term use of proton pump inhibitor drugs may be associated with low magnesium levels, according to a drug safety communication issued by the FDA.
August 2011 – Public Citizen files a petition indicating that patients who stop using proton pump inhibitors after taking them for longer than a month may suffer from higher stomach acid levels that force them to go back on the medications, resulting in drug dependence.
February 2012 – Proton pump inhibitors can increase the risk of Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea (CDAD), a disease characterized by watery stool, fever, abdominal pain and intestinal problems, according to a warning from the FDA.
October 2014 – The FDA requires stronger warnings highlighting the potential drug interactions and side effects associated with popular heartburn drugs like Nexium and Prilosec.
October 2004 – Research published in The Journal of the American Medical Association finds that the risk of pneumonia is 89% higher for patients using proton pump inhibitors, and 63% higher for patients using H2-receptor antagonists like Zantac.
December 2006 – The Journal of the American Medical Association publishes research linking long-term use of Nexium and other PPIs to an increased risk of hip fractures in patients over 50.
May 2010 – Post-menopausal women taking Nexium have a 25% increased risk of wrist or spine fractures, according to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
January 2012 – Long-term use of proton pump inhibitors is associated with an increased risk of hip fractures, especially among women with a history of smoking, according to a study published in the British Medical Journal.
July 2013 – The journal Circulation publishes a study linking heartburn drugs like Nexium and Prilosec to a potential increased risk of heart attacks and cardiovascular diseases.
April 2015 – A Canadian Medical Association Journal study conducted by researchers in Canada finds that the use of proton pump inhibitors may increase the risk of acute kidney injury and kidney failure among patients over the age of 65.
June 2015 – A review of 16 million electronic records for 2.9 million patients published in the journal PLoS One indicates that patients who take medications to suppress the release of stomach acid have a 16% to 21% increased risk of heart attacks, according to a study conducted by researchers from Stanford University.
November 2015 – Research published in the medical journal PLoS One reports that over-prescription of proton pump inhibitors was found in 73.9% of older patients.
February 2016 – German researchers find a link between the use of popular heartburn medications like Nexium and a 44% increased risk of dementia among patients 75 and older who take the drugs regularly. The study involved data from a large German health insurance firm on nearly 74,000 seniors between 2004 and 2011, including drug prescriptions and diagnoses.
February 2016 – JAMA Internal Medicine publishes a study linking the use of proton pump inhibitors to a 20% to 50% increased risk of chronic kidney disease. Researchers also note that 25% of long-term PPI users could discontinue treatment without suffering increased acid reflux or heartburn.
April 2016 – A study published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology links long-term use of PPI drugs like Nexium to a 96% increased risk of kidney failure and a 26% increased risk of chronic kidney disease.
With new information about the alleged link between Nexium and dementia, new product liability lawsuits are expected to be brought against AstraZeneca in the coming months. All Nexium lawsuits filed over dementia, bone fracture, kidney disease and other side effects from the heartburn drug involve similar allegations that AstraZeneca:
More than 15 million Americans take prescription heartburn medications like Nexium to block stomach acid, and serious concerns have been raised about the potential for the drugs to be overused to treat minor cases of acid reflux or heartburn, exposing users to an unnecessary risk of major side effects. If you believe you have been adversely affected by alleged side effects of Nexium, like dementia, heart attack, kidney disease or bone fractures, consult an experienced product liability lawyer as soon as possible, to discuss the possibility of filing a Nexium injury lawsuit against AstraZeneca. With a skilled Nexium attorney on your side, you can protect your legal rights and pursue the financial compensation you deserve for your injuries and medical bills.