Washington University Researchers Find Increased Risk of Death From Proton Pump Inhibitors

Acid Reflux Text and GraphThe proton pump inhibitor effectively treated your acid reflux, but did the medication also cause you significant harm?

Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are linked to various serious side effects, such as:

  • Kidney problems
  • Dangerous infections
  • Broken bones
  • Strokes
  • Stomach cancer
  • Death

If you take Nexium, Prilosec, Prevacid, or another PPI medication, then it is important to understand the risks of various side effects and your legal rights if you’re injured.

2019 Study Links PPIs to Fatal Conditions

In May 2019, researchers from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the Veterans Affairs St. Louis Health Care System published the results of a PPI safety study in the journal The BMJ.

How the Study Worked

Researchers used Department of Veterans Affairs records to identify 157,625 people who were prescribed PPIs and 56,842 people who were prescribed H2 blockers to treat acid reflux between July 2002 and June 2004. Researchers followed the more than 214,000 people in the study for up to ten years.

What the Study Found

The results of the study indicate:

  • A 17% increased risk of death among the people taking PPIs compared to the people taking H2 blockers.
  • There were 45 excessive deaths per 1,000 people among the people taking PPIs compared to the people taking H2 blockers. The death rate for people taking PPIs was 387 people per 1,000 people compared to 342 people per 1,000 people for people taking H2 blockers.
  • An increased risk of cardiovascular deaths for people taking PPIs. Results showed that 88 of every 1,000 people taking PPIs died of cardiovascular disease compared to 73 of every 1,000 people taking H2 blockers.
  • An increased risk of stomach cancer deaths for people taking PPIs. Six of every 1,000 people taking PPIs died of stomach cancer compared to four of every 1,000 people taking H2 blockers.
  • An increased risk of chronic kidney disease deaths for people taking PPIs. Eight of every 1,000 people taking PPIs died of chronic kidney disease compared to four of every 1,000 people taking H2 blockers.

Additionally, researchers found that more than half of the people prescribed PPIs did not have a documented medical reason for taking the medication. Among this group, the death rate from PPI related cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease, and stomach cancer was even higher than for people who were prescribed PPIs for a documented medical condition.

More than 80% of the PPI users included in the study were taking low doses of the medication, similar to what is available in over-the-counter PPI medications. This may suggest that over the counter PPIs need better safety warnings and that people should not be using them for extended lengths of time without talking to their doctors.

Researchers concluded that PPI medications should only be used when medically necessary and that, when they are used, they should be used at the lowest possible dose and for the shortest amount of time possible to avoid potentially fatal side effects.

Have You Been Hurt by a PPI Medication?

If you are diagnosed with, or if your loved one has died from, cardiovascular disease, stomach cancer, or chronic kidney disease after taking a proton pump inhibitor, then it is essential to understand your legal rights.

On August 2, 2017, multidistrict litigation (MDL) was established for PPI injury cases. Cases are currently pending, and you may have the right to pursue a mass tort case if you were hurt.

A mass tort case gives you the opportunity to seek legal compensation for a defective medication that caused you harm. You remain in control of your own lawsuit and recovery, but you and your mass tort lawyer can coordinate your legal efforts with other people who are similarly hurt to make your case easier.

To learn more, please contact the mass tort lawyers of Keefe Disability Law. We help people hurt by PPIs and other medications in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire get the fair recoveries that they deserve. Call us or start an online chat with us now to schedule your free case evaluation.

Are You Looking for a Mass Tort Attorney in Boston, MA?

If you have been injured by dangerous drugs you need to speak with an experienced mass torts lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Natick Office directly at 888.904.6847 to schedule your free consultation.


John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney, Massachusetts Social Security Disability Lawyer
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