Prilosec (omeprazole) is a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) manufactured by Procter & Gamble. It was first approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in 1989. It initially went by the name Losec, but was later changed to Prilosec due to name confusion.
Prilosec is used in treating symptoms of esophagus damage and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
In addition to GERD, Prilosec may be prescribed with antibiotics to treat gastric ulcer, pathological hypersecretory (Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome, Multiple Endocrine Adenomas, And Systemic Mastocytosis), and erosive esophagitis.
In recent years, a number of studies have found a link between PPI (Prilosec) use and chronic kidney disease (CDK) and more.
Chronic Kidney Disease
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a potentially fatal disease where the normal function of the kidney is compromised. Kidneys extract waste and excess fluids from the bloodstream, which are then excreted into urine. When this function is compromised, dangerous levels of fluids and waste can build up in the body.
CKD often progresses into end-stage kidney failure, which requires artificial filtering (dialysis) or a kidney transplant as treatment. End-stage kidney failure is often fatal.
In recent years, reports have surfaced claiming a link between Prilosec and a number of acute and chronic injuries.
One study published in JAMA concluded an end total of 1,921 study participants experienced chronic kidney disease (CKD) from using PPIs. “Proton pump inhibitor use is associated with a 20 – 50% higher risk of incident CKD,” according to the study.
Another study was conducted by researchers at Washington University in St. Louis. Over the span of five years, researchers followed close to 200,000 people and monitored symptoms from taking PPIs. They concluded the longer a patient takes a PPI, the higher their risk of CKD.
They found that 15 percent of the PPI users experienced CKD compared to 11 percent of users taking H2 blockers, another type of heartburn medication.
Another study conducted by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health showed the same increase in patients prescribed PPI’s like Nexium.
NPR Online quoted Adam Schoenfeld, who co-authored an editorial accompanying the study as saying,
“When they first came out they weren’t associated with side effects, or we didn’t think they were,”. He went on to state, “So we put [people] on this medication thinking: ‘It’s a quick fix and they’re very safe.’ But in actuality they’re associated with a range of side effects.”
Other risks associated with Prilosec
For years, Nexium and other PPI’s were prescribed in staggering numbers, as they were thought to be relatively harmless. After over 20 years on the market, the long-term safety of the drug is being called into question.
In 2011, the FDA issued a warning that long-term PPI use could cause magnesium levels to drop, known as hypomagnesemia. The warning also included that even with magnesium supplementation,
Recent studies show PPI’s may increase the risk in developing a number of painful and potentially life threatening conditions such as rhabdomyolysis (a painful syndrome caused by the release of muscle fibers into the bloodstream), cardiovascular complications, and loss of brain function known as hepatic encephalopathy (HE).
Prilosec may increase the risk of bone fractures. In 2010, the FDA reviewed studies that indicate fractures have been identified in the hip, wrist or spine of patients taking PPIs. Though the agency determined a warning label was not required, studies did conclude the increased risk of bone injuries while taking the medication long-term, or at high doses.
PPI’s such as Prilosec, Nexium and Prevacid have also been linked to dementia in older patients. JAMA Neurology published a study that found 44% of patients 75 years and older were subjected to the increased risk of dementia.
Prilosec Side Effects
Prilosec has been linked to causing a multitude of side effects. If you experience any of the symptoms listed below, contact your health care provider immediately.
Common Side effects:
- Body aches or pain
- Chest pain
- Diarrhea or loose stools
- Difficulty breathing
- Ear congestion
- Loss of voice
- Muscle pain
- Nasal congestion
- Runny nose
- Unusual drowsiness
Major Side effects:
- Back, leg or stomach pain
- Bleeding or crusting sores on the lips
- Bloody or cloudy urine
- Continuing ulcers or sores in the mouth
- Difficult, burning or painful urination
- Frequent urge to urinate
- General feeling of discomfort or illness
- Joint pain
- Fast, racing, or uneven heartbeat
- Mood or mental changes
- Muscle spasms (tetany) or twitching seizures
- Nausea or vomiting
It is important to note that the initial symptoms of a heart attack often mirror the symptoms of heartburn. If you experience shortness of breath, chest pains or tingling in the shoulders or arms, contact a physician or dial 911 immediately.
- Acute interstitial nephritis (AIN)
- Acute tubular necrosis (ATN)
- Acute kidney injury (AKI)
- Acute kidney failure (AKF)
- Chronic kidney disease
- Renal and/or kidney failure
- End stage renal disease (ESRD)
- Stomach cancer