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Nexium, Prilosec and Fractures

     The commercial almost makes you long for vacation. Two people traveling on a purple RV, going around the country with a message about fighting heartburn. Unfortunately, there may be a bad trade-off for heartburn relief, if these products are overused.

     They are medically known as Proton pump inhibitors (PPI’s). Prescription PPI’s include Nexium, Dexilant, Prilosec, Prevacid, Protonix and Acihpex. Now, studies are showing that those taking one of these for long periods ( a year), or have been taking high doses in certain prescription formations, may face a higher risk of fractures.

     The FDA has warned that PPI’s may increase the risk of fractures of the hip, wrist and spine. As a result, the FDA is requiring these products to display warnings  reporting an elevated fracture risk. Previously, most were relying on a Canadian study that indicated that there was some risk for increased fractures, but that such risk was in users who already had susceptibility to osteoporosis and were using these products for a period of about 7 years. That study had little effect on whether most were going to seek a prescription that would help them combat their heartburn.

     Most of the reports of increased fractures from these studies are found in adults over the age of 50. The FDA is requiring these new package warnings after reviewing the results of six studies.  One other study also suggested  that these drugs could also raise the risk of exposure to bacterium that is capable of causing severe diarrhea. I’m guessing that the next “happy couple in the RV”  TV advertisement will be followed with some baritone announcer reciting a long list of warnings, followed by the ever comforting “talk to your doctor to see if it’s right for you”.


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