Dangerous Side Effects of Heartburn Medications

August 25, 2022 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman
Dangerous Side Effects of Heartburn Medications

PPI Drugs Can Cause Kidney Damage and Disease

Proton pump inhibitors are among the more commonly used heartburn drugs you can get over the counter or via prescription today. Proton pump inhibitors are taken by an estimated 15 million Americans and rake in around 10 billion dollars annually. As such a commonplace heartburn remedy, one would assume it would be completely safe. Alas, proton pump inhibiting drugs have been linked to chronic kidney disease and kidney failure, among other health issues. Find out the dangerous side effects of heartburn medications and what legal rights you have.

Popular Proton Pump Inhibitor Drugs

Proton pump inhibitor drugs are available over the counter or by prescription as a pill or liquid ingested orally. The most popular of these PPI drugs would be Prilosec (omeprazole) and Nexium (esomeprazole) with $218 million - $300 million dollars in annual sales respectively. Some of the other popular PPI drugs include:
  • Nexium (esomeprazole)
  • Prilosec (omeprazole)
  • Prevacid (lansoprazole)
  • Dexilant (dexlansoprazole)
  • Zegerid (omeprazole)
  • Protonix (pantoprazole)
  • Aciphex (rabeprazole)

What Are Proton Pump Inhibitors?

The primary function of a proton pump inhibitor is to reduce the production of gastric acid which, in turn, helps reduce the heartburn the acid can cause. Proton pump inhibitors have also been used to help with a myriad of other medical conditions such as:
  • Barrett's Esophagus – Damage to the lower portion of the tube that connects the mouth and stomach
  • Gastritis – Any group of conditions in which the stomach lining is inflamed
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) – A digestive disease in which stomach acid or bile irritates the food pipelining
  • Peptic Ulcer Disease (PUD) – A sore that develops on the lining of the esophagus, stomach, or small intestine
  • Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome – A condition in which one or more tumors form in your pancreas or the upper part of your small intestine
  • Dyspepsia – Indigestion
  • Gastrinomas – A tumor in the pancreas or duodenum that secretes an excess of gastrin, leading to ulceration in the duodenum, stomach, and small intestine

Short-Term Side Effects of PPIs

Proton pump inhibitors gained traction as a remedy for heartburn since they have minimal short-term side-effects, including:
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Rash
  • Itching
  • Flatulence
  • Constipation
However, upon closer study, researchers determined that while the short-term side effects were minimal, there was a slew of possible long-term health risks that could develop. Therefore the FDA has recommended no more than three 14-day treatment courses in a one-year time period.

Health Risks Associated with Proton Pump Inhibitors

By blocking the creation of gastric acids in the stomach, PPIs can also block the absorption of minerals into the body. This has linked them to:
  • Chronic kidney disease (CKD) – a longstanding disease of the kidneys leading to renal failure
  • Acute kidney injury (AKI) – a condition in which the kidneys suddenly can't filter waste from the blood
  • Acute interstitial nephritis (AIN) – Swelling between the kidney tubules
  • End-stage renal disease (ESRD) – A longstanding disease of the kidneys leading to renal failure due to the kidney's inability to purify blood
  • Strokes
  • Dementia
  • Certain infections
  • Pneumonia
  • Bone fractures

Kidney Damage from PPIs

According to a study published by the Journal of American Medicine (JAMA), PPIs can increase a patient's risk of developing serious kidney problems, such as chronic kidney disease and kidney failure. The onset of the disease is gradual and most will not notice the effects of their kidney damage until it's too late.

Pregnancy Risks Associated with PPIs

The University of Pennsylvania found evidence that babies born to mothers who used PPIs during the first trimester were twice as likely to develop congenital heart defects. The most common of those defects was septal defects, or holes in the heart.

In a Proton Pump Inhibitor Claim, Who Is Liable?

The liability of any drug injury claim can vary from case to case. The nature of the injuries, how the drug was obtained, and other facts can change the nature of the case. The various ways someone can be held liable for your drug injuries include:
  • Product liability: When any product injures consumers due to defects in design or manufacturing, the manufacturer is obligated to pay compensation for these injuries. In addition to the manufacturer, distributors and retailers can also face liability for getting the dangerous product to the injured consumer.
  • Dangerous side effects: Almost every medication comes with the possibility of side effects, and while drug manufacturers are not expected to eliminate all possible side effects, they must properly label their products and adequately warn consumers about them. In some cases, manufacturers actually attempt to conceal the possibility of side effects.
  • Improper marketing: Improper marketing can consist of packaging, branding, warnings, and counseling about a medication. A manufacturer, sales representative, doctor, or pharmacist can provide counseling about a medication.

The Manufacturer May Not Be the Only One at Fault

It is also important to know exactly who will be held liable for any damages sustained by a drug like a proton pump inhibitor. It's not as simple as pointing fingers at the company credited with making the product. A product has to move down a chain of several businesses, or a “stream of commerce.” Any or all of the businesses in this stream leading to the customer could be held liable. These could include the manufacturer, distributor, or retail sales location that finally gets the product into the consumer's hands. Examples of parties that could be held liable for damages you sustained from taking drugs like proton pump inhibitors include:
  • Testing laboratories
  • Pharmaceutical sales representatives
  • Physicians
  • Medical facilities
  • Pharmacies or pharmacists

Contact an Experienced Drug Injury Attorney Today

If you or a loved one have suffered from any of the aforementioned conditions and have taken proton pump inhibitor drugs in the past, do not hesitate to contact Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA for a free consultation. Our skilled lawyers have experience in assisting in drug injury claims and getting clients the compensation they deserve. Feel free to contact us with any questions. You can reach us in one of three ways:
  • Call us at (833) 606-DRUG [3784].
  • Complete our online contact form.
  • Click the Live Chat button in the bottom right corner of this page.


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has successfully fought for more than 11,000 injured clients and acted as lead counsel in more than 1,000 lawsuits. Always on the cutting edge of personal injury law, Matt is actively engaged in complex legal matters, including Suboxone, AFFF, and Ozempic lawsuits.  Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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