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Heartburn drugs under fire

Common heartburn drugs are under fire, as a series of studies from the Archives of Internal Medicine released on Monday demonstrating serious side effects such as increase in fractures and bacterial infections.

Collectively, these drugs are called proton pump inhibitors, but they are better known as Nexium (AstraZeneca), Prilosec (AstraZeneca), Protonix (Pfizer), and Prevacid (Takeda).  These medicines have a total U.S. sales of 13.9 billion annually, as an estimated 113 million prescriptions are filled each year.  Dr. Michael Katz, director for the San Francisco Department of Public Health, states that 60 to 70 percent of people taking proton pump inhibitors do not need to be on them.  This problem is augmented by people being unaware of the risk until now.  

One of the studies was done at University of Washington, taking 161,806 women ranging from 50 to 79 years old over an eight year period and determined those taking the drugs had a 25 percent increase in fracture risk, primarily of the spine and wrist.

Another study tied to Harvard Medical School examined over 100,000 patients discharged from hospitals over a five year span.  They found that people who use a proton pump inhibitor drug daily have a 74 percent increase in cases of Clostridium difficile infection.  This is a sometimes deadly cause of diarrhea, and the cost of treating it has risen over 1 billion each year.

It is a common trend to see pharmaceutical lifestyles yield serious side effects.  There is a price to be paid for putting foreign chemicals into a human body, especially over long periods of time.  Heartburn is not caused by your body’s lack of making Prilosec, it is more likely due to poor food and lifestyle choices. If you have seen the commercials, they tell you that it is okay to eat pizza, wings, beer, and french fries as long as you take your medicine ahead of time.  The truth is your body knows these things are toxic and is trying to reject them.  Make better choices, create better health, and avoid unnecessary side effects.

In Health,

Dr. Cole

About Cole Bradburn

I'm a writer and doctor in lifelong pursuit of health, happiness, and adventure. I currently live in Raleigh, NC with the love of my life and our amazing boys.