Prilosec, also known generically as omeprazole, is a delayed-release drug designed to block tiny stomach pumps from producing acid. Prilosec’s manufacturer, AstraZeneca introduced the medication in 1989. It was the first prescription proton pump inhibitor. Then, in 2003 it became the first of its kind available over the counter in the form of Prilosec OTC.
Since its release in 2003, more than 27 million people have used Prilosec OTC to treat heartburn. In fact, Consumer Reports published an article in 2012 recommending Prilosec OTC over other proton pump inhibitors. Prilosec OTC is available in 20 mg delayed-release tablets without a prescription. Consumers should only take the tablet once a day for 14 days. According to the drug’s label, you may repeat the 14-day course every four months if needed. Prilosec OTC shouldn’t be taken for more than 14 days or more often than every four months. However, most people take it longer than directed.
Studies Link Prilosec to Serious Health Effects
Roughly, 15 million Americans use PPIs every year. Out of these, 20-50% are at a higher risk of chronic kidney disease compared with nonusers. The study published by JAMA Internal Medicine warned not to take Prilosec at all or to use only for the shortest possible duration. Those that increased their dosage also increased their risk for kidney disease. Kidney disease occurs when the kidneys lose their ability to filter blood effectively. This can lead to end-stage renal failure, which is the need for life-long dialysis treatment or even a kidney transplant.
Prilosec Linked to Acute Interstitial Nephritis
In 1992, it was first noted that PPIs cause Acute Interstitial Nephritis (AIN). Each new study described the 5 times greater risk users have in developing this deadly infection. AIN is a drug-induced bacterial infection of the kidneys. Prilosec causes nearly all cases of AIN. The treatment is either drug removal, dialysis or a kidney transplant. However, PPIs have a high rebound rate. This means that when the drug is stopped most people have such a high dependency on it that they must continue to use it just to feel better. The cycle continues until patients end up on dialysis or death.
It was not until December 2014 that the FDA issued a new warning about the association between Prilosec and kidney issues. This warning outlined the potential risk of developing acute interstitial nephritis, the sudden inflammation of the kidneys. The actual side effects of Prilosec are much worse. The FDA neglected to warn consumers that Prilosec users have a 50% risk of developing acute kidney injury, chronic kidney disease, and even kidney failure.
Prilosec & Chronic Liver Disease
Around 10% of Americans use PPIs like Nexium, which brings seven times higher risk of developing a chronic liver disease. The researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine found that mice with gastric acid suppression developed alterations in their gut. Specifically, this bacteria named Enterococcus. These changes caused an environment favorable to liver inflammation and liver injury. It also increased the progression of liver disease in the mice used during the experiment.
Senior author of the study, Bernd Schnabl, MD, associate professor of gastroenterology at UC San Diego School of Medicine noted that the rise of chronic liver disease is related to more people using PPIs. “We believe clinicians should consider withholding medications that suppress gastric acid unless there is a strong medical indication,” Schnabl said.
A chronic liver disease is the 12th leading cause of death worldwide and that number is rapidly increasing. PPIs, which include brand names such as Prilosec, Nexium, and Prevacid, are the most common doctor-prescribed medications in the world. They are also relatively inexpensive medications, costing around $7. The longer the use the more costly it becomes. Americans spend around $11 billion each year on PPIs.
Long-term PPI Use Could Lead to Stomach Cancer
Prevacid & Esophageal Cancer
On February 22, 2018, Cancer Epidemiology published a study led by Dr. Nele Brusselaers and his team at Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm. The study used data from four national registers in Sweden to identify almost 800,000 patients taking PPIs like Prevacid. They found that those using PPIs had a near double rate of developing esophageal cancer than those who did not. Unlike the other cancers mentioned, researchers found that even using PPIs for a short amount of time still caused esophageal cancer.
If Prilosec Injured You
When manufacturers produce unsafe products that create pain and suffering, you deserve compensation. Although no amount of money will change the fact that you have suffered a serious injury as a result of manufacturer irresponsibility, compensation will help offset your current and future medical costs, as well as provide for the pain and suffering you have experienced. By filing, you may also help protect others from needless distress.
You may be eligible for compensation to ease the financial burdens associated with your injury. Contact us today to set up a free consultation, during which we will listen to your story, answer any questions you may have and discuss your legal rights and options. If you choose us to represent you, we will work with you on a contingency fee basis; this means you pay nothing until we have secured compensation for you, either through a jury verdict or settlement.