Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Danger of Antacid Medications

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a safety alert for proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). PPIs are a class of medications commonly used to treat stomach and duodenal ulcers, reflux esophagitis, and other gastric problems. PPIs include:
• AcipHex (rabeprazole sodium)
• Dexilant (dexlansoprazole)
• Nexium (esomeprazole magnesium)
• Omeprazole (omeprazole) Over-the-Counter (OTC)
• Prevacid (lansoprazole) and OTC Prevacid 24hr
• Prilosec (omeprazole) and OTC
• Protonix (pantoprazole sodium)
• Vimovo (esomeprazole magnesium and naproxen)
• Zegerid (omeprazole and Sodium bicarbonate) and OTC

The FDA stated, “…the use of stomach acid drugs known as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) may be associated with an increased risk of Clostridium difficile–associated diarrhea (CDAD). A diagnosis of CDAD should be considered for patients taking PPIs who develop diarrhea that does not improve.”(1)

C. difficile is a bacterium that can infect the colon and cause severe, life-threatening diarrhea. It causes over three million cases of diarrhea per year in the U.S. Approximately 1-4% of patients with C. difficile die from the illness.

Those who read my books don't have to wait years for the FDA to act. Three years ago in Drugs That Don’t Work and Natural Therapies That Do, I wrote about the consequences of long-term use of PPIs. I stated, “The reason we are seeing such a dramatic increase in C. difficile infections is clear; it is due to the overuse of powerful antacid medications.”

What can you do? If you are prescribed a PPI, you should take it for the shortest possible time period. If possible, long-term use of this class of medications should be avoided. Also, taking a healthy probiotic along with a PPI can help avoid problems like C. difficile.

More information about PPIs and how to use a holistic approach to overcome stomach and esophageal problems can be found in my book, Drugs That Don’t Work and Natural Therapies That Do.