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Prevacid and Other Proton Pump Inhibitors

People who suffer from gastrointestinal problems like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) are frequently prescribed drugs from a class of drugs known as proton pump inhibitors. Popular forms of these drugs include Prevacid (lansoprazole), Prilosec (omeprazole) and Nexium (esomeprazole). They are among the nation’s most commonly prescribed drugs, with 53 million prescriptions for Prilosec alone in 2010. And because they treat long-term problems with digestion &mdash: which can affect patients on a daily basis &mdash: they tend to be taken on a daily basis for years at a time.

However, studies since at least 2006 have shown that the long-term use of proton pump inhibitors by people over 50 also has a serious risk: an increased likelihood of breaking a bone. In particular, studies have shown an increased risk of breaking a hip, for which older adults are already at higher risk. One study of medical records found that the risk of a hip fracture went up by 44 percent for patients taking a proton pump inhibitor. The risk went up for patients taking the drugs for long periods and those taking very high doses. In 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that studies showed an increased risk of hip, wrist and spine fractures for patients taking proton pump inhibitors for a year or more or in high doses.

The risk of hip fracture is especially concerning because hip fractures can be debilitating or even fatal in older people. In addition to being very painful, hip fractures require immobilization and surgery, putting the patient at risk for surgical side effects, blood clots, urinary tract infections and even hastened-onset dementia. It can also cause older adults to lose their independence, at least temporarily. All of these side effects are the basis for numerous injury lawsuits filed by Missouri Prevacid lawyers.

Scientists have not identified a reason for the increased likelihood of broken bones with long-term use of drugs like Prevacid, but they speculate that proton pump inhibitors could interfere with absorption of calcium in food, weakening bones. Proton pump inhibitors reduce gastric acid, which helps the body digest food. Studies have already shown that proton pump inhibitors may be associated with deficiencies in vitamin B12 and magnesium, both of which are absorbed through food. One study suggested that proton pump inhibitors could decrease absorption of magnesium.

Despite the fact that studies first appeared in 2006, the FDA declined to make a safety announcement about fracture risk until 2010. In fact, while the prescription proton pump inhibitors carry a safety warning about the increased risk of broken bones, it expressly declined to put one on the over-the-counter versions (Prilosec OTC, Zegerid OTC, Prevacid 24HR). The FDA does require information about bone fracture risk for prescription proton pump inhibitors, but the information is not as obvious or as strictly worded as advocates might want. For that reason, manufacturers of name-brand and generic proton pump inhibitors may face lawsuits from Missouri Prevacid lawyers who claim patients were seriously hurt after taking a drug they were never adequately warned could raise their risk of a debilitating broken bone.

Based in St. Louis, E. Ryan Bradley represents Missouri families that have suffered serious injuries or illnesses because of taking a dangerous prescription drug. That includes drugs whose side effects they and their doctors were never adequately warned about. Prescription drugs are big business: manufacturer AstraZeneca had $5 to $6 billion in sales on Nexium, which is still under patent, in 2010. Sometimes, drug makers that want to protect those big profits decide not to explain potential risks of “blockbuster” drugs, or even actively attempt to hide negative drug information. When pharmaceutical companies fail to warn patients, especially when they know all about the risks, they are liable in lawsuits filed by patients who were seriously hurt by medications they thought they could trust. Our Missouri Prevacid lawyers help victims claim damages not only for their pain, suffering and lost quality of life, but also for increased medical bills and other financial costs of their injuries.

If you believe you were seriously hurt by Prevacid, Prilosec, Nexium or another proton pump inhibitor, call E. Ryan Bradley today for a free, confidential consultation. Call us toll-free 24 hours a day at 314-400-0000 if you need advice from a Missouri drug defect lawyer.