Too many purple pills?

I am constantly amazed at the number of people who are taking various GERDs meds and at the lack of attention to possible side effects. Maybe that is starting to change. Here is a report from CNN based on studies published in the Archives of Internal Medicine that highlights the shadow side of proton-pump-inhibitors.

IMHO, while there are extreme cases of people with excess stomach acid, the majority on these meds are people with mild to moderate indigestion which can be largely relieved by changes in the foods and the manner of eating.

this version of the story is from CNN’s Health.com

(Health.com) — Too many people in the U.S. may be taking stomach-acid-suppressing drugs such as Nexium and Prevacid, new research suggests. The drugs, known as proton pump inhibitors, help those with serious stomach and digestive problems, but the risks may outweigh the benefits for people with less serious conditions, experts say.

Proton pump inhibitors can have rare but serious side effects, including an increased risk of bacterial infection and bone fracture, according to several new studies in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Proton pump inhibitors are among the most commonly prescribed drugs in the U.S. In 2009, they were the third-largest class of drug in the country with $13.6 billion in sales, representing more than 110 million prescriptions, according to IMS Health, a health-care market research firm.

Nexium and Prevacid (which is also available as a generic drug, lansoprazole) are the two most popular proton pump inhibitors, according to the most recent government data. Other drugs in the class include Prilosec, Zegerid, Protonix, and Aciphex.

“These medications definitely have benefits for a vast number of patients, but they also carry some really meaningful risks of diseases that can be catastrophic,” says Dr. Michael Howell, the lead author of one of the studies and the director of critical-care quality at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. “Every doctor should look at every patient and give them the lowest level of gastric acid suppression that they think is safe. For many patients, that would be none.”….

much much more can be found at CNN’s Health.com

here is a link to the NPR version

here is a link to the Archive of Internal Medicine article on PPIs and bone fractures: please note that the increased risk is not very high but if you really can solve the acid problem through lifestyle why take the chance.

here is a very measure account of this topic from the British NHS Health News

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  1. Chris Kresser, the “Healty Skeptic”, posted a great series of articles about GERD and it’s treatment on his blog recently. Here’s a link to the first in the series, which has links at the bottom to the others in the series:
    What Everybody Ought To Know (But Doesn’t) About Heartburn & GERD




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