New evidence increases concerns over the long-term safety of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), one of the most popular drugs on the market for treating acid reflux. Researchers say that these medications, known by brand names such as Nexium, Prevacid and Prilosec, may increase the risk of developing osteoporosis and osteopenia in the femur bones. These findings were published online May 31 in International Journal of Rheumatic Diseases.
Abbas Arj, M.D., from the Kashan University of Medical Sciences in Iran, and colleagues performed a cross-sectional study of 80 patients, half of whom took PPIs and half of whom did not. The researchers used dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry to determine bone mineral density of the femur and posterior-anterior spine in all participants.
The researchers found that the patients exposed to PPIs experienced greater changes in bone mineral density than the patients who did not take medication. The PPI group also had significantly greater frequency of femoral osteoporosis and osteopenia than the control group. No bone loss in the spine was observed in either group.
"Overall, the results of this study showed that PPI use in subjects without risk factors of osteoporosis determined by the femoral T-score compared with the control group was associated with increased risk of developing osteoporosis and osteopenia in the femur bones," the researchers wrote (Source: Medical Xpress).
This evidence comes on the heels of increased lawsuits against drug manufacturers over the side effects of PPIs. Mandates by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) required drug makers to strengthen label warnings about potential complications from long-term use, including the possible risk of severe kidney damage. However, individuals allege that drug makers failed to adequately warn doctors and consumers about known health risks (Source: Injury Lawyer News).
PPIs can be a powerful tool in controlling chronic acid reflux, but these medications are intended for short-term use and should only be taken under doctor’s supervision. Individuals who regularly take PPIs by prescription or over-the-counter should maintain routine follow-ups with their physician to discuss potential side effects and the possibility of alternative treatments.