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Heartburn Drugs May Pose Health Risks

Heartburn Drugs May Pose Health Risks

Heartburn Drugs May Pose Health Risks 150 150 CMZ Law Lufkin/Houston

Can I file a lawsuit against a pharmaceutical company if I am injured by a medication?

A recent clinical study by the Houston Methodist Research Institute indicates that a class of heartburn drugs, proton pump inhibitors or PPIs, put users at increased risk of heart attack, stroke and renal failure. These drugs, sold under brand names such as Prevacid, Prilosec and Nexium, may cause damage to cells in the arteries.

While PPIs are designed to inhibit acid production by cells known as lysosomes, the drugs may also prevent cells from dividing and reproducing, leading to plaque buildup in the walls of blood vessels. In addition to the risk of heart attacks and other maladies, cell damage in the arteries is also linked to dementia and cancer. In the study, where cells were exposed to the PPI Nexium that mimicked long-term usage, researchers also found chromosome damage that is associated with these age-related diseases.  Meanwhile, other heartburn medications known as H2 blockers – the active ingredient in Zantac, do not cause similar damage to artery cells.

One of the researchers involved in the study noted that this should have been detected by the pharmaceutical industry earlier. At the same time, he also suggested that many PPI users take these drugs on a long-term basis, contrary to FDA guidelines which limits the use of PPIs to four weeks at a time, three times a year.

For its part, AstraZeneca, the maker of Nexium, refuted the findings. The drug maker argued that this was not a controlled clinical study conducted in humans and that causation cannot be established. AstraZeneca also said it believes PPIs are safe, provide they are use according to instructions. However, the FDA previously warned (in 2010) that PPIs can have other adverse effects such as increased risk of fractures and low levels of magnesium in addition to the potential for cardiovascular problems.

While more research will be needed to evaluate the risks of PPIs, some users have begun to file lawsuits. In the end, pharmaceutical companies that provide medications to consumers have a duty to ensure these products are safe. If these drugs are found to be harmful, drug makers need to be held accountable. If you were injured by a defective medication, a personal injury attorney can help you obtain compensation.