Propulsid was a prescription drug designed for the treatment of severe gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), more commonly known as acute nighttime heartburn. The drug works by increasing the rate at which your esophagus, stomach and intestines move during digestion. It was approved by the FDA in 1993, and in 1999 sales of Propulsid had reached approximately $950 million. At the drugs peak, it was averaging approximately $1 billion a year. Jansen Pharmaceuticals manufactured Propulsid and the drug was prescribed to nearly 10 million patients.

In 2000, the FDA reported that there were 381 cases of heart rhythm abnormalities and 80 deaths resulting from the use of Propulsid. Later that same year, Propulsid was taken off the market because of these serious risks.

In a study looking at 58,000 premature babies, it was seen that 20% of these infants’ mothers had been given Propulsid during pregnancy. 11 infant deaths were also associated with the drug.

Serious side effects may include:

  • Fast or irregular heartbeats
  • Feeling like you might pass out

Less serious side effects may include:

  • Stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea
  • Increased urination
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