Chronic Kidney Disease May Be The Final Result Of Using Commonly Prescribed Ulcer And Reflux Meds
New research shows that commonly prescribed drugs that are used to treat ulcers, heartburn and acid reflux may be having a severe and permanent effect on the kidneys of patients using them. The study focused on patients who were using a class of drugs called proton pump inhibitors, which reduce the production of gastric acid, and thus reduce symptoms of people who suffer from the aforementioned types of gastric distress.
The patients they looked at showed an increased risk of kidney function decline, chronic kidney disease, and outright kidney failure. What’s more, the longer someone used the drugs, the greater the risk of kidney damage they faced.
The St. Louis-based study, led by Yan Xie, MPH and Ziyad Al-Aly, MD, FASN, examined data gleaned from the Veteran’s Affairs national databases. The researchers identified over 173,000 new users of proton pump inhibitors–which includes brand names like Priolsec, Prevacid and Nexium–and 20,000 new users of another class of drugs that are also used to suppress stomach acid, called histamine H2 receptor blockers.
Over five years of follow-up study, the group found that the people taking PPIs were more likely to suffer kidney function decline than those taking H2 receptor blockers. They were also 28 percent more likely to develop chronic kidney disease, and had a frightening 96 percent increased risk of developing kidney failure.
The truly alarming thing about this study is that at minimum, 15 million Americans are annually prescribed PPIs, according to a 2013 survey. But the drug widely prescribed and even available over the counter, that number is likely much higher.
Also, the study’s authors emphasized repeatedly the “graded association” between the amount of time people took PPIs and the risk of kidney problems. In other words, the longer people took them, the higher their risk of developing kidney problems.
“The results emphasize the importance of limiting PPI use only when it is medically necessary, and also limiting the duration of use to the shortest duration possible,” said Dr. Al-Aly. “A lot of patients start taking PPIs for a medical condition, and they continue much longer than necessary.”
Another interesting aspect of the study is that it could point the way for scientists to take the lead on researching the dangers of new drugs rolled out by Big Pharma that a supine FDA seems only too eager to allow to be approved without proper vetting.
“The study serves as a model to leverage the availability of Big Data–with VA data being a prime example–and advanced analytics to determine long term safety profiles of commonly used medications and promote pharmacovigilance,” said Dr. Xie.
Pharmacovigiliance. Now there’s a word that has a nice ring to it. if the government and the pharmaceutical companies won’t watch out for consumers, it’s great to hear that at least doctors and researchers like Xie and Al-Aly are. And we can help.
If you or someone you know regularly takes a PPI drug, a consult with a doctor on how long and at what dosages it should be continued would seem to be in order.