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Heartburn/GERD Health Center

Acid Reflux Drugs May Up Fractures

Osteoporosis Fractures May Be More Common in People Who Use Proton Pump Inhibitors for at Least 7 Years
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Benefits of PPIs vs. Risks continued...

That association "is certainly a strong basis for encouraging further investigation," write the editorialists, who included J. Brent Richards, MD, of Canada's McGill University.

What are patients to do in the meantime? Talk to their doctors, the editorialists suggest.

"Certainly, at one extreme, such as in patients with bleeding ulcers, the beneficial effects may far outweigh the risks associated with fractures," the editorial states. "At the other extreme, liberal prescription of proton pump inhibitors for nebulous disorders for extended periods of time is likely worth revisiting."

Drugmakers Respond

Targownik's study doesn't specify which PPIs the patients took. So WebMD contacted the makers of all prescription brand-name PPIs in the U.S. -- Aciphex, Nexium, Prevacid, Prilosec, and Protonix -- for their feedback on the study.

The drug company AstraZeneca makes Nexium. "AstraZeneca does not agree with the conclusion of the CMAJ study," states AstraZeneca spokeswoman Corey Windett in an email to WebMD. She says Nexium's safety and efficacy have been "consistently demonstrated." Windett says AstraZeneca also notes the study's limits and agrees with the editorialists that further research is needed and that patients and doctors should "weigh the proven benefits of these medications against any potential risks." Patients should talk to their doctors if they have concerns about bone health while taking Nexium or any other PPI, says Windett.

Judee Shuler, senior director of corporate communications for Eisai Inc., which makes Aciphex, states that the Canadian results "warrant further study, as these fractures are important medical issues that can occur for a variety of reasons. Our clinical trial data have not shown an increased risk of osteoporosis-related fractures in patients taking [Aciphex] tablets, nor have our post-marketing data suggested such an association, but we will continue to monitor our adverse event database."

The other PPI drugmakers didn't respond before deadline.

WebMD also contacted the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), which declined to comment on the study.

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