Proton Pump Inhibitors

Proton Pump Inhibitors are a group of medications which work to treat gastric and duodenal ulcers, gastroesophageal reflux disease and other excessive gastrointestinal acid and secretory disorders. Many people rely on over-the-counter PPIs to treat heartburn. Some brand name PPIs are Aciphex, Nexium, Prevacid, Prilosec and Protonix. Most of these drugs were approved by the FDA from 1999-2003. There are approximately 113.4 million prescriptions written for PPIs every year.

In 2010, the FDA announced that it was updating PPI labels to warn about serious and dangerous side effects that could arise from using this group of drugs. Long term use of this class of drugs has been linked to wrist, spine and hip fractures in patients—especially women. The drug works by reducing acid in the stomach and can block the release of calcium in the body, weakening bones. Many studies have been conducted and show a clear link between the extended use of PPIs and bone fractures.

PPIs have also been thought to cause hypomagnesaemia, or low levels of magnesium in the blood. This can cause muscle spasms, arrhythmias and seizures.

The labels of PPIs have been updated by the FDA, but patients and doctors have been urged to be more careful about the amount of time that a PPI is used.

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