Aciphex, generically known as rabeprazole, is used to treat symptoms of Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) and other conditions involving excessive stomach acid—such as Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome. The drug has also been used to promote the healing of erosive Esophagitis (damage to the esophagus caused by stomach acid).
Aciphex is categorized as a Proton Pump Inhibitor (PPI) and works by blocking enzymes in the stomach wall that produces acid, thus slowing down acid production. Doctors write nearly 113.4 million prescriptions every year for this type of drug.
Aciphex has been linked to a variety of side effects that have emerged after extended use. Some side effects include the increased risk of hip, wrist or spine fractures. Over time, the drug may inhibit the body’s ability to absorb calcium and make bones weaker, which can cause osteoporosis.
The drug has also been found to interfere with the blood clotting abilities of the drug Plavix when taken in succession. One study found that patients taking both Plavix and Aciphex had a higher risk of heart attack and stroke.
One study, published in 2010 in Annals of Internal Medicine, took a look at 56,000 Danish patients discharged after a heart attack who were prescribed the drug. The study found that there was a 29 percent increased risk of a re-hospitalization from a heart attack or stroke within 30 days of discharge. There was even an increased risk of cardiovascular death. This study was compared to people who did not receive the drug after discharge. These findings suggest that Aciphex can be harmful for those who have already experienced heart issues.
Two different studies, conducted in 2010 by New England Journal of Medicine and Gastroenterology, point to Aciphex and other PPI drugs causing serious birth defects.
Aciphex, which was prescribed to pregnant women to help cope with acid reflux and frequent heartburn, was believed to be safe during pregnancy. These new studies have found that the drug can cause birth defects such as septal heart defects, where a baby is born with a hole in the wall that separates the chambers of the heart.
Side effects may include:
- Serious allergic reactions
- Dizziness, confusion
- Fast or uneven heart rate
- Jerking muscle movements
- Feeling Jittery
- Muscle Cramps, muscle weakness or limp feeling
- Cough or choking feeling
- Seizures (convulsions)
- Upset Stomach
- Insomnia or nervousness
- Rash or itching