Acid flowing back into the esophagus causes heartburn. It can be extremely painful. Heartburn’s a symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Of course, you can relieve symptoms with H2 blockers (acid reducers) like Pepcid and Zantac. Using either Prilosec or Nexium daily to treat more serious cases is often referred to as “maintenance therapy.” Both medications belong to a class of drug called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). Unfortunately, Nexium used to treat frequent heartburn can have dire unintended side effects.
PPIs are the most potent gastric acid inhibitors available. PPIs comprise the third best-selling pharmaceutical category in the United States, and exceed $13.9 billion in sales annually.
Nexium’s main problem is that while it destroys stomach acid which causes heartburn, it also destroys “good acid” required to digest food. In doing so, PPIs can cause severe side effects. FDA warnings and pending PPI lawsuits are the result.
Nexium Used to Halt Stomach Acid Production
“Dip into any physiology textbook,” says Harvard Health Publications, “and you’ll find that stomach acid serves several constructive purposes.”
Pepsin is an essential enzyme for preliminary protein digestion. Pepsin needs an acidic environment in order to work. It also helps digest some foods and provides a built-in barrier to fight infection. Yet entire drug categories exist to eliminate stomach acid because it causes heartburn. And while it relieves heartburn, using Nexium over extended periods can cause devastating side effects.
Nexium Used Daily Can Have Serious Side Effects
Every medication poses some side effect risks. Prilosec and Nexium used for short treatment courses may cause nausea, headaches, pneumonia, diarrhea, irregular heartbeat, muscle spasms, and seizures.
But these side effects are just the beginning. New studies show eliminating stomach acid can affect nearly every area, not just your gastrointestinal tract. Nexium has been linked to side effects as extreme as heart attack, C-diff, bone fractures and osteoporosis, and dementia as well as Alzheimer’s.
A JAMA Neurology study linked PPIs and dementia. The study analyzed over 70,000 adults aged 75 and older for eight years. All subjects initially showed no signs of dementia. Researchers found those taking PPIs for 18 months or longer had a 44% increased risk of developing dementia.
The link to heart attacks is clear. A 2015 study linked PPIs to heart attacks and noted this increased risk “might extend to subjects without any prior history of cardiovascular disease.” They found patients regularly taking PPIs for an extended period had a 16%-21% increased risk of heart attack compared to those who did not.
Dietary deficiencies caused from lack of magnesium and calcium absorption are also common. This includes bone weakening and fracture as well as C-diff and diarrhea.
FDA Warnings Over Nexium Used Longer Than Three Months
The first FDA warning in 2011 concerned lower magnesium levels. “This problem can be serious,” says the FDA. “Low magnesium can happen in some people who take a proton pump inhibitor medicine for at least three months.” Low magnesium symptoms include seizures, dizziness, abnormal or fast heartbeat, jitters, muscle weakness, muscle spasms, cramps, or voice box spasms. These symptoms typically occur after three months. For occasional or mild heartburn, try a weaker antacid than Nexium.
In 2012, they warned proton pump inhibitors may increase Clostridium Difficile-associated diarrhea (CDAD) risks. “A diagnosis of CDAD should be considered for patients taking PPIs who develop diarrhea that does not improve,” the FDA stated. The FDA says C-Diff can spread in hospitals. The agency said they’re working to update PPI packaging and drug labels regarding CDAD.
The FDA issued another “reminder” warning that combining clopidogrel and omeprazole (Prilosec) may cause “significant reductions in… active metabolite levels and antiplatelet activity.” The FDA states that simultaneous Plavix (an anticoagulant) and omeprazole (Prilosec) use is ineffective. However, this only applies to omeprazole, not all PPIs, based on the referenced study results.
FDA warnings can help some patients avoid dangerous side effects from prolonged PPI use. However, the manufacturers don’t convey all possible side effects on PPI drug labels. In fact, they’ve failed to warn consumers about dangerous side effects from Nexium used daily or long-term.
Multiple lawsuits are being filed against the manufacturers of Nexium, Prilosec, and other PPIs for their failure to warn consumers of the possible dangers of using the drug for a prolonged period.
One case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee on July 5, 2016. The plaintiff, Charles Bower, contracted drug-induced interstitial nephritis. Bower believes Nexium used for five years resulted in his current, serious kidney damage. His case is so severe that he now has chronic nephritis, undergoes dialysis three times a week, and needs a kidney transplant.
Nexium Used Long-Term Can Cause Kidney Damage
Lawsuits say Nexium manufacturer AstraZeneca failed to warn consumers about kidney damage risks. While the company added nephritis to its label in 2014, individuals first reported cases back in 2004. A full decade passed before AstraZeneca warned consumers.
Attorneys are assembling evidence that PPI manufacturers (including Nexium and Prilosec) new they could cause severe side effects. The companies failed to properly warn the public about possible complications like nephritis, heart attack, bone fracture, osteoporosis, and dementia and Alzheimer’s.
How To File a Nexium Claim
Now, Nexium victims seek justice for irreparable damages caused by PPIs. If you or a loved one took any PPI (including Nexium or Prilosec), you may be eligible for compensation. To speak to an attorney about your case, fill out your free Nexium claim review today.
Related: When and How to Stop Taking PPIs for Heartburn Relief
Lori Polemenakos is Director of Consumer Content and SEO strategist for LeadingResponse, a legal marketing company. An award-winning journalist, writer and editor based in Dallas, Texas, she's produced articles for major brands such as Match.com, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, Xfinity, Mail.com, and edited several published books. Since 2016, she's published hundreds of articles about Social Security disability, workers' compensation, veterans' benefits, personal injury, mass tort, auto accident claims, bankruptcy, employment law and other related legal issues.