A new study conducted by scientists at the Johns Hopkins University showed that proton pump inhibitors (PPI) used in the treatment of acid reflux, heartburn and indigestion, could put a person at risk of developing kidney disease, reported United Press International on Monday.
Previous studies have also associated PPIs with an increased risk of heart attack and a higher chance of death for patients in the hospital.
Common PPIs sold in the market include Nexium, Prilosec and Prevacid, but studies in the last decade have increased the awareness of healthcare practitioners and patients of the significant risks and adverse effects brought about by the drug.
"It is possible that PPI users are sicker than nonusers, or that adverse effects are caused by other drugs or conditions associated with PPI use," noted Dr. Adam Schoenfeld and Dr. Deborah Grady in an editorial published with the latest study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. "However, some adverse effects have been documented by multiple high-quality observational studies and are likely causal."
According to Medscape on Monday, the researchers evaluated the medical data of 10,482 subjects from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) and took into comparison the rates of chronic kidney disease (CKD) incidents between patients taking proton pump inhibitors and those who are not.
The researchers also replicated the approach in 248,751 subjects from the Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania.
They have found that of the 322 subjects using PPIs in the ARIC study, the risk of developing kidney disease was at 11.8 percent, while the 16, 900 subjects from the Geisinger Health System who are using PPIs, the risk for kidney disease was at 15.6 percent.
"We note that our study is observational and does not provide evidence of causality," said Benjamin Lazarus, MBBS, from the Department of Epidemiology in Johns Hopkins University. "However, a causal relationship between PPI use and CKD could have a considerable public health effect given the widespread extent of use."
"More than 15 million Americans used prescription PPIs in 2013, costing more than $10 billion." Lazarus added. "Study findings suggest that up to 70% of these prescriptions are without indication and that 25% of long-term PPI users could discontinue therapy without developing symptoms. Indeed, there are already calls for the reduction of unnecessary use of PPIs."