“Acid Reflux Drugs Linked to Bad Side Effects”
An estimated 20 percent of Americans suffer from acid reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux, both often referred to as “heartburn.” Acid reflux drugs, known as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), include lansoprazole (Prevacid), manufactured by Novartis, as well as esomeprazole (Nexium) and omeprazole (Prilosec), both manufactured by AstraZeneca. Millions of U.S. residents take proton pump inhibitors (PPI), which are widely prescribed to treat heartburn, ulcers and other gastrointestinal problems. This class of medication has been available for commercial use for nearly 25 years. Both PPIs and H2 blockers (histamine-2–receptor antagonists (H2RA) are prescribed for serious medical conditions, such as upper GI tract bleeding, gastroesophageal reflux disease and esophageal cancer. Over-the-counter PPIs are most often used for heartburn and indigestion. Although the recommended treatment regimen for most PPIs is short—two to eight weeks for ulcers, for example—many people end up taking the drugs for months or years. PPIs are some of the most widely prescribed drugs in the U.S., with $14 billion in annual sales. However, there have been emerging concerns with reports of potential adverse effects associated with use of PPIs. In the United States, such reports have led the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to issue many broad-based product warnings, including all of the available PPI drugs either for prescription or over-the-counter purchase.