Heartburn Drugs

Proton Pump Inhibitors: PPIs

Proton Pump Inhibitors–PPIs–are used to treat acid reflux (heartburn) and to alleviate or prevent conditions such as ulcers, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and Zollinger-Ellison syndrome (a condition that can lead to peptic ulcers). PPIs are sold over-the-counter and also in prescription strengths. Common brands are Prevacid, Nexium, and Prilosec. PPIs have been linked to increased risk of dangerous kidney problems that may lead to the need for dialysis or even death.

What are PPIs?

PPIs are drugs that block acid production in the stomach. When we eat, proton pumps in the linings of our stomachs make acid to break down the food so we can digest it and absorb its nutrients. Too much acid may result in heartburn, discomfort, GERD, and sometimes in the formation of ulcers. PPIs (proton pump inhibitors) reduce the amount of acid the stomach produces.

There are many PPIs—sold both over the counter and by prescription. They include:

What Do PPIs Treat?

People take over-the-counter PPIs like Nexium 24 HR, Prilosec OTC, and Prevacid 24-Hour for heartburn. There are other kinds of drugs to treat heartburn, too, such as antacids, like Tums and Rolaids, and histamine blockers (H2 blockers), like Pepcid and Zantac. But it is PPIs that have been associated with adverse medical events in some people.

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PPIs may be purchased over the counter for heartburn, and they also may be prescribed to:

  • Treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which is a chronic digestive disorder that occurs when stomach acid flows back into the throat (esophagus)
  • Eliminate Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), a type of bacteria found in the stomach that can cause sores (ulcers) in the lining of the stomach
  • Treat Zollinger-Ellison syndrome, a rare condition in which tumors discharge large amounts of the hormone gastrin, which causes the stomach to produce too much acid
  • Treat and prevent recurrence of erosive esophagitis (EE), an inflammation of the lining of the esophagus
  • Treat gastric and duodenal ulcers, a sore in the lining of the stomach or intestine

Studies have found PPI-related health risks. Some of the most serious involve kidney damage. They are:

  • Acute kidney injury (AKI)
  • Acute interstitial nephritis (AIN)
  • Chronic kidney disease (CKD)
  • End-stage renal disease (ESRD)

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) occurs when kidneys stop functioning the way they should. It occurs gradually, so it may not be diagnosed until the situation is acute. Your kidneys filter waste and excess fluid from your blood. As CKD progresses, the kidneys do a poorer and poorer job of filtration and dialysis is required. However, when it becomes acute, CKD is easily diagnosed but also quite dangerous; it can progress to end-stage renal failure, which is fatal unless a kidney transplant is performed.

Acute interstitial nephritis (AIN) occurs when there is swelling between the tubules of your kidneys. The kidney’s tubules function to reabsorb water and other organic substances and eliminate those not needed. When they swell, the kidneys can’t function properly. Acute interstitial nephritis is often caused by drug reaction and PPIs have been found to be the most common drugs associated with it. AIN has been found responsible for up to 15 percent of hospitalizations for AIN.

End-stage renal disease is the last stage of chronic kidney disease. CKD is gradual, and symptoms get more and more serious over time, but may not be diagnosed and therefore may not have been treated in its early stages. Once a patient reaches end-stage renal disease, dialysis or transplant is necessary for survival. Without it, death is certain.

Have You or a Loved One Suffered Kidney Damage?

Have you or a loved one taken PPIs and suffered kidney damage? Have you been diagnosed with CKD or AIN or acute kidney injury (AKI)? Have you had to endure dialysis?

If you or a loved one has had kidney disease and taken PPIs, you may be entitled to compensation, for the added medical and care expenses, lost work, and emotional pain and suffering.

Contact us for a free consultation. Our attorneys have years of experience and a reputation for personalized, compassionate partnering with our clients. We also have the expertise, resources, and manpower to fully investigate your circumstances in order to get you the justice you deserve.

You pay nothing unless we win your case. Call us at 516-746-7000 or fill out the form on this page and someone will contact you shortly.

Important: Consult your doctor before stopping any prescribed medication.