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Stomach drugs

Unnecessary stomach drugs exposing millions to side effects

Saturday, September 25, 2010 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: stomach drugs, side effects, health news


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(NaturalNews) Widespread overprescription of potent and expensive stomach drugs is unnecessarily exposing millions of patients to potentially devastating and even fatal side effects, according to a study conducted by researchers from the San Francisco Department of Public Health and published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.

"Harm will result if these commonly used medications are prescribed for conditions for which there is no benefit, such as non-ulcer dyspepsia," said the journal's editor, Rita Redberg.

The drugs in question, known as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), work by suppressing the secretion of acid in the stomach. Intended for ulcers and severe heartburn or gastric reflux, they are nevertheless widely prescribed for less serious indigestion.

Estimates on the overuse of the drugs varies from one-half to two-thirds of all prescriptions. In the United Kingdom, doctors have warned the National Health Service that 100million, or one-quarter of all its spending on PPIs, goes to unnecessary prescriptions each year.

Prescriptions of PPIs in the United Kingdom have tripled since 2000 to their current level of 36 million per year.

Yet PPIs cost roughly twice as much as older drugs that could be used to treat milder cases of heartburn, with much more dire side effects. By suppressing the stomach's acid production, PPIs create an environment more favorable to certain dangerous bacteria such as the antibiotic resistant superbug C. dificile or the bacteria responsible for some pneumonias. One recent study found that the risk of C. dificile infection in patients taking PPIs increased by 74 percent, while another found that the risk of recurrence increased by 42 percent.

The drugs also interfere with calcium absorption in the stomach, increasing the risk of brittle and broken bones. PPIs have also been implicated in an increased risk of kidney malfunction.

"That proton pump inhibitors relieve dyspepsia is without question but at what cost -- and I do not mean financial," researcher Mitchell Katz said.

Sources for this story include: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-12....

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