One of the most prescribed drugs in the world could cause kidney failure

May 18th, 2016

One of the most prescribed drugs in the world could cause kidney failure, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. The drugs are called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and are commonly sold to treat heart burn, among other conditions.

Some of the most popular PPIs are Prevacid, Prilosec and Nexium, which can be bought with or without a prescription. About 15 million people receive prescriptions for PPIs every year, but the number of over-the-counter users is likely much higher.

The study involved more than 176,000 patients who took a PPI and more than 20,000 who took an alternative drug to alleviate conditions such as heartburn, acid reflux, ulcers and gastroesophageal reflux disease. The study found that patients who took a PPI were 96% more likely to suffer kidney damage than patients who took the alternative.

The study’s authors propose that, due to the increased potential of kidney problems from PPIs, the drugs are overprescribed. Other PPI side effects could include pneumonia, an increased risk of infections from C. difficile and a risk of osteoporosis.

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