Researchers Weigh Benefits, Risks of PPIs

By August 1, 2019 No Comments
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A Very Common Drug

Just how risky it is to take these popular drugs has become a source of debate.

While the benefits to patients are undeniable, the drugs’ safety has come into sharp focus, with studies and researchers both defending and questioning the drugs’ benefits, dangers, and widespread use.

In the last few years, thousands of lawsuits have been filed, with patients claiming side effects including kidney disease and bone fractures. According to Drug Watch, a consumer advocacy group, one of the first cases is set for trial in September 2020.

A study published in May in The BMJ, a British medical journal, looked at death rates associated with PPIs.

According to lead investigator Ziyad Al-Aly, MD, an assistant professor of medicine at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, the study focused on 157,000 veterans who were prescribed PPIs for the first time, following them for 10 years.

“There is a very significant body of evidence that suggests that these drugs (PPIs), when used for a long period of time, especially when they are not medically indicated, are associated with serious side effects and also associated with increased dying from specific causes — namely dying from heart disease, kidney disease, and stomach cancer.”

“There may be other risks as well,” Al-Aly continued, “But, it is important to mention in this context that PPIs are not all evil drugs. They’re also beneficial drugs when used appropriately in the right patient and for the indicated duration of time. In the right patients, these drugs actually also save lives.”

Paul Moayyedi, MD, a professor of gastroenterology at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, says his new research on PPIs, published in early June in the American Gastroenterology Association’s journal Gastroenterology, found no need for worry.

His study was a large trial of 17,598 people whom researchers followed for 3 years. They found no evidence to support claims that PPIs cause serious diseases like chronic kidney disease, pneumonia, diabetes, and dementia.

One group was put on a PPI, and the other was given a placebo. Moayyedi says they found similar rates “of everything” between the two groups, “The rates of heart disease, stroke, pneumonia, fracture, chronic renal disease, and dementia were very similar between the two groups. Cancer rates were also similar, and all cause mortality was almost identical between the two groups.”  

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