Zegerid: Popular Heartburn Drug Carries Hidden Dangers


Zegerid is a Proton Pump Inhibitor (PPI) that alleviates the acid reflux or heartburn symptoms that plague millions of Americans. A combination of omeprazole and sodium bicarbonate, Zegerid uses the same active ingredient as another popular PPI, Prilosec. Available in prescription form and Zegerid OTC, it works by drastically lowering gastric acid production in your stomach. Despite its effectiveness, PPIs like Zegerid include increased risks for chronic kidney disease (CKD), renal failure, and other severe complications. Now, PPI lawsuits are underway (including against Zegerid) for failing to warn consumers about serious risks from regular, long-term use.

You Can Buy Zegerid Almost Anywhere — So What’s Harmful About It?

Because PPIs like Zegerid essentially eliminate stomach acid, they deplete your body of necessary nutrients, such as calcium and magnesium. This is one reason many physicians believe taking Zegerid regularly can lead to severe health problems, such as stroke.

Other possible Zegerid side effects (which apply to any PPI, such as Protonix, Prevacid, Nexium, AcipHex and Dexilant) include:

  • Acute interstitial nephritis (kidney inflammation)
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Kidney (or renal) failure
  • Acute kidney injury (AKI)
  • Bone fractures
  • Low magnesium and vitamin B12 levels (chronic)
  • Gut infections
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Dementia

PPI Dangers Increase Over Time Or With Regular Use

A 2016 study showed patients taking PPIs for prolonged periods have an increased risk of CKD compared to non-PPI users. Among 10,482 test subjects, researchers linked PPI use to a 45% increased risk for developing CKD. After adjusting for demographics, socioeconomics and other clinical variables, the increased CKD risk rate for PPI patients was around 50%. The study concludes, “Proton pump inhibitor use is associated with a higher risk of incident CKD. Future research should evaluate whether limiting PPI use reduces the incidence of CKD.”

In 2010, the FDA released a statement regarding bone fracture risks from PPI use — specifically the hip, wrist, and spine. Because PPIs deplete calcium levels, continual use puts patients at much higher risks for broken bones.

Joyce Korvick, MD, says, “Epidemiology studies suggest a possible increased risk of bone fractures with the use of proton pump inhibitors for one year or longer, or at high doses. Because these products are used by a great number of people, it’s important for the public to be aware of this possible increased risk and, when prescribing proton pump inhibitors, healthcare professionals should consider whether a lower dose or shorter duration of therapy would adequately treat the patient’s condition.”

In addition to the above, several 2017 studies appear to find a direct causal link between PPIs and kidney failure. You can review a recent clinical investigation on long-term kidney outcomes among PPI users here.

My Own Zegerid Kidney Damage Experience

I personally have had terrible gastritis twice in 36 years. The first time, I was hospitalized and written a prescription for Tagamet. About eight years ago, the Tagamet stopped working when I developed a severe throat infection. Two months of continuous coughing, steroids and antibiotics later, I went to see my dentist. Imagine my surprise when the dentist directed me to the closest emergency room for a rush endoscopy. As it turns out, tiny strips of my esophagus had come loose and the cough I couldn’t shake was me choking on them. If I hadn’t gone to the ER that day, the gastroenterologist on duty warned me I could’ve bled to death internally.

So, I started a two-month course of pantoprazole (Protonix). Within six months, I was completely healed. But the temptation of taking just one little pill every day (a PPI) kept me popping them to avoid more stomach and throat pain. Eight years later, I was fighting an array of maladies I thought were age-related. Chronic vitamin deficiencies, bone-density loss, occasional stomach flus, and now anemia, too? Then I got my blood labs back after a routine check-up and saw my kidney functionality listed at 52%. I have one functioning kidney left, I thought, and made an appointment to see a nephrologist. I voiced my concern that daily PPI use was to blame. The doctor agreed, and I stopped taking PPIs cold turkey.

The hypersecretion rebound effect was very painful, but only kept me awake in pain for about five days out of 36 total. Instead, I took two Zantac in the morning, then two more before dinner. When a flare-up happened, I chewed Rolaids or TUMS. Exactly 60 days later, I did the blood retest and a CT scan of my internal organs, just in case. Sure enough, I was able to reverse the damage completely by cutting out PPIs. For the first time in my adult life, my eFGR read 100. I’ll never take another PPI if I can help it, but I do keep a bottle in the cabinet for emergencies.

How To Get The Justice You Deserve

If you or a loved one took Zegerid regularly and developed serious health complications, you may be eligible for compensation. Manufacturers failed to adequately warn consumers about life-altering risks associated with taking Zegerid and other PPIs, like Nexium and Prilosec. You’re most likely to develop vitamin deficiencies, infections and other severe PPI complications after two months of continuous use. In addition to speaking with your doctor about weaning yourself off PPIs, speak with an attorney who handles pharmaceutical lawsuits. If you have Zegerid complications, an experienced attorney can review your information and help you get the justice you deserve.

Start by filling out your free claim review form today to see if you may qualify for financial compensation from the manufacturer. (Don’t worry if the claim evaluation form says Nexium instead of Zegerid — all PPI drugs contain nearly identical active ingredients. Omeprazole and esomeprazole, for example, are the same drug after it’s metabolized within your stomach.) Once you’ve submitted your information, an experienced lawyer will call for your free consultation to discuss your compensation options.

Related: When and How to Stop Taking PPIs for Heartburn Relief

Mandy Voisin

Mandy Voisin is a freelance writer, blogger, and author of Girls of the Ocean and Star of Deliverance. As an accomplished content marketing consultant, mom of four and doctor's wife, Mandy has written hundreds of articles about dangerous drugs and medical devices, medical issues that impact disabled Americans, veterans' healthcare and workers' compensation issues since 2016.