The popular heartburn drug Prilosec has been linked to a potential increased risk of serious and potentially life-threatening side effects in users, which is extremely alarming, considering the fact that more than 15 million Americans take Prilosec and similar medications to block stomach acid and relieve their symptoms of acid reflux and heartburn. If you or a loved one took a proton pump inhibitor like Prilosec, and you have since suffered devastating complications like heart attack, dementia, cardiovascular disease, kidney damage or chronic kidney disease, our consumer advocates at the Consumer Justice Foundation can help. We are committed to protecting the rights of consumers harmed by dangerous pharmaceutical drugs, and can help put you in touch with an attorney who has experience handling Prilosec injury claims.
Proton pump inhibitors like Prilosec are typically administered to reduce the symptoms of heartburn, acid reflux or gastroesophageal disease, but many experts believe that these medical issues can be resolved without the use of potentially dangerous drugs. In many cases, symptoms of frequent acid reflux and heartburn can be relieved with simple dietary and lifestyle changes. Some alternative treatment options for patients struggling with heartburn and acid reflux who want to avoid putting themselves at risk for dementia, kidney damage and other side effects may include:
Originally known as “Losec,” Prilosec (omeprazole) is a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) medication designed to decrease the amount of acid produced in the stomach, thereby relieving symptoms of heartburn, acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). In some cases, Prilosec is administered to promote healing of erosive esophagitis – damage to the esophagus caused by stomach acid – or is given in combination with antibiotics to treat gastric ulcers caused by infection. Prilosec is manufactured by drug maker AstraZeneca, and was originally approved as a prescription medication by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1989, making it the first member of the proton pump inhibitor class of drugs. In 2001, AstraZeneca introduced a “next generation” version of Prilosec called Nexium, and in 2003, the FDA approved an over-the-counter version of Prilosec for the treatment of frequent heartburn.
A growing number of studies have found a possible link between Prilosec treatment and serious side effects in users, including the following:
The potential risk with proton pump inhibitors lies in the fact that our bodies actually need stomach acid to perform certain vital functions, including digesting food properly, warding off infection and absorbing essential nutrients like iron, calcium and zinc. When patients take Prilosec or another drug that decreases the amount of acid produced in the stomach, the consequences can be devastating, possibly leading to side effects like heart attack, kidney damage, kidney failure and chronic kidney disease. In one study published in JAMA Internal Medicine in February 2016, Prilosec and other proton pump inhibitors were associated with a 20% to 50% greater risk of chronic kidney disease. Another study published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology two months later linked long-term use of PPIs to a 96% increased risk of kidney failure and a 26% increased risk of chronic kidney disease.
There have also been reports of a potential connection between PPI drugs like Prilosec and an increased risk of dementia. According to one study of nearly 74,000 seniors published in the medical journal JAMA Neurology in February 2016, patients over the age of 75 who take the heartburn medications regularly may face a whopping 44% higher risk of dementia. The researchers involved in this study also concluded that women who took Prilosec or another proton pump inhibitor for 18 months or longer were at the greatest risk for dementia side effects. This alleged Prilosec dementia risk may be linked to the effect PPI medications appear to have on the levels of amyloid beta and tau, which are proteins associated with Alzheimer’s disease, and on vitamin B-12, which has been linked to cognitive decline when there is a deficiency.
In April 2014, the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen filed a lawsuit against the FDA, calling for the agency to require black box warnings on the labels of heartburn drugs like Prilosec, highlighting the risk of side effects associated with the medications. Today, product liability lawyers are reviewing potential Prilosec lawsuits and other claims involving complications from popular heartburn and acid reflux medications known as proton pump inhibitors.
May 2010 – The FDA issues a news release warning against long-term use of high-dose PPI drugs, due to the potential for the medications to cause hip, wrist and spine fractures.
May 2010 – The FDA requires new warning labels on proton pump inhibitors that highlight the potential for the drugs to increase the risk of hip, spine and wrist fractures.
March 2011 – Long-term use of PPI drugs like Prilosec may be associated with low magnesium levels in patients, according to a drug safety communication issued by the FDA.
August 2011 – A petition filed by Public Citizen warns that patients who stop using PPIs after taking them for longer than a month may experience higher stomach acid levels that force them to continue using the medications, resulting in drug dependence.
February 2012 – A warning from the FDA indicates that PPIs can increase the risk of Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea (CDAD), a disease that causes abdominal pain, fever, watery stool and intestinal problems.
October 2014 – The FDA requires stronger warnings for popular heartburn drugs like Prilosec and Nexium, highlighting possible drug interactions and severe side effects.
October 2004 – The Journal of the American Medical Association published a study indicating that the risk of pneumonia is 89% higher in patients using PPIs, and 63% higher in patients using H2-receptor antagonists like Zantac.
December 2006 – A study published in JAMA draws a connection between long-term use of proton pump inhibitors like Prilosec and an increased risk of hip fractures in patients over 50.
May 2010 – Post-menopausal women taking proton pump inhibitors are 25% more likely to suffer spine or wrist fractures, according to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
January 2012 – The British Medical Journal publishes research linking long-term use of proton pump inhibitors to an increased risk of hip fractures, particularly among women with a history of smoking.
July 2013 – A study published in the journal Circulation indicates that heartburn drugs like Prilosec and Nexium may increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases and heart attacks among users.
April 2015 – The Canadian Medical Association Journal publishes a study linking the use of PPI drugs to a 2.5-times increased risk of acute kidney injury and kidney failure among patients over 65.
June 2015 – Research published in the journal PLoS One shows that patients who take drugs that suppress the release of stomach acid may face a 16% to 21% higher risk of heart attacks.
November 2015 – PloS One publishes another study indicating that over-prescription of proton pump inhibitors was found in 73.9% of older patients.
February 2016 – German researchers find a connection between the use of popular heartburn drugs like Prilosec and a 44% increased risk of dementia among patients 75 and older who take the medications regularly.
February 2016 – Proton pump inhibitors are associated with a 20% to 50% higher risk of chronic kidney disease, according to research published in JAMA Internal Medicine. The study also indicates that 25% of long-term PPI users could stop treatment without experiencing increased heartburn or acid reflux symptoms.
April 2016 – The Journal of the American Society of Nephrology publishes research linking long-term use of Prilosec and other proton pump inhibitors to a 96% increased risk of kidney failure, and a 26% increased risk of chronic kidney disease.
Even though it has the potential to cause devastating side effects in users, Prilosec remains one of the top five over-the-counter medications on the market, bringing in nearly $400 million in sales for AstraZeneca in 2013 alone. As more information comes to light about the potential risk of Prilosec complications, product liability lawyers are investigating claims on behalf of Prilosec users across the country who believe they have suffered side effects from the popular heartburn drug. Prilosec lawsuits filed in the coming months and years will likely involve similar allegations that AstraZeneca:
Millions of Americans take proton pump inhibitors like Prilosec to relieve their symptoms of heartburn and acid reflux, and many of them are unaware of the potential for these drugs to cause serious and possibly even life-threatening side effects like kidney damage, kidney failure, heart attack and dementia. If you believe you have been harmed by alleged side effects of Prilosec, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your injuries, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other damages. Contact a knowledgeable Prilosec attorney today to discuss the possibility of filing a product liability lawsuit against AstraZeneca. With an experienced drug injury lawyer on your side, you can protect your legal rights and seek fair and timely reimbursement for your losses.