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New Research Shows PPI Heartburn Drugs May Increase Risk of Kidney Disease and Failure

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New research from multiple studies now show that a popular type of medication may increase the chances of chronic kidney disease and kidney failure. These medications, called proton pump inhibitors, are in widespread use throughout the United States. Many brands are available, both by prescription and over the counter. Some of the most frequently used or prescribed PPI drugs (and their generic names) include:

  • Prevacid (lansoprazole)
  • Nexium (esomeprazole)
  • Prilosec (omeprazole)
  • Zegerid (omeprazole and sodium bicarbonate)
  • Protonix (pantoprazole)
  • Aciphex (rabeprazole)
  • Dexilant (dexlansoprazole)

Though many of these drugs are produced by different manufacturers, they are all typically or prescribed or purchased for similar symptoms, including:

  • Heartburn
  • Acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Peptic or stomach ulcers

All PPI drugs function by blocking the action of an enzyme in the stomach lining that’s responsible for stomach acid production.

New Studies Shows PPI Risks

Research published in April 2016’s Journal of the American Society of Nephrology examined the medical records of over 173,000 veterans taking PPI drugs, in comparison with over 20,200 veterans taking non-PPI acid reducer drugs. The analysis found that a shockingly high number of patients taking PPIs suffered from damage to their kidneys: the risk of acquiring chronic kidney disease was found to be 28% greater with PPIs compared to the other acid reducers.

The numbers only get worse from there. The same study found that veterans taking PPI drugs were 96% more at risk to develop end-stage renal disease, when the kidneys cease functioning effectively at all. ESRD is always fatal without immediate medical intervention, which can include dialysis and the need for an organ transplant.

About Chronic Kidney Disease and ESRD

When fully functioning, the kidneys act like filters for our blood, removing the waste products of our metabolisms and disposing of them safely in our urine. CKD occurs when the kidneys sustain lasting damage due to any number of causes, including disease, infection, or the ingestion of substances that are poisonous, toxic, or otherwise capable of harming the kidneys. This damage is typically gradual and progressive, especially if the underlying cause or condition is left untreated. As the kidneys lose their ability to cleanse the blood, symptoms of illness begin to show. Some of these symptoms include:

  • Changes to the amount, frequency, or urge to urinate
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Fluid on the lungs and shortness of breath
  • Chest pain from fluid buildup around the heart
  • Foot and ankle swelling
  • Muscle cramps
  • Loss of appetite
  • Exhaustion and difficulty thinking
  • Nausea or vomiting

Unfortunately, CKD doesn’t typically begin to show symptoms until significant damage has already occurred. The damage cannot be reversed, though doctors might be able to slow or prevent further injury with interventions, such as medications and dietary changes.

End-stage renal disease, or ESRD, is what happens when CKD has become so severe that the kidneys are no longer capable of filtering waste well enough to sustain life. ESRD requires urgent medical attention, as it can quickly become fatal.

Treatment of ESRD begins the where CKD treatment leaves off, with medication and dietary changes. Eventually, it’s likely that further procedures will become necessary. Dialysis may be needed to artificially clean the blood, but this is a stopgap measure at best.

Ultimately, it’s likely that an organ transplant will become necessary for an ESRD sufferer. All organ transplants are complex procedures with inherent risks, and will require a lifetime of regular medical care, including dangerous anti-rejection medications that weaken the immune system.

Taking Responsibility to the Manufacturers

With over 15 million Americans reported to be taking PPI drugs, the connection with CKD and ESRD stands to seriously injure the health of a great many Americans. When pharmaceutical companies fail in their duty to sell products that are safe, they need to take responsibility. Who is going to pay for the medical bills of PPI users who have suffered harm because of this medication? What about the shattered families when a loved one passes away due to CKD or ESRD caused by a PPI drug that the manufacturer claimed was safe? They must be held accountable.

If you or someone you love has fallen ill with CKD or ESRD as a result of a proton pump inhibitor, you might be owed compensation, and it’s your legal right to pursue it in a court of law. If you would like to protect your right to seek the compensation that you are owed, contact an attorney experienced with dangerous drug litigation. Call Wayne Wright at 800-237-3334 today for a free consultation.


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