Study Lends Weight to Suspected Link Between PPIs and Hip Fractures

Acid-suppressive heartburn medications, otherwise known as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), are developed specifically to assist in the treatment and prevention of chronic heartburn. While the mechanism of action exhibited by PPIs has demonstrated a propensity for the treatment of heartburn, it may coincide with catastrophic complications. According to a recent study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), new evidence lends weight to the long-suspected link between PPIs and the increased risk of hip fractures.

As it stands, heart burn medications of the proton pump inhibitor class are one of the most commonly used drugs around the globe. After gaining approval from the U.S. Food and rug Administration (FDA) in 2003 for over-the-counter (OTC) use, PPIs witnessed an exponential growth in popularity. Subsequently, PPIs have treated countless patients suffering from heartburn symptoms, gastroesophageal reflux, and peptic ulcers.

Proton pump inhibitors are used in the treatment of symptoms associated with the production of excess stomach acid. As PPIs, heartburn medications represent a pronounced and long-lasting reduction of gastric acid production. The are considered the most potent inhibitors of acid secretion on the U.S. market. Accordingly, by halting the production of acid, PPIs can assist in the treatment of heartburn and other related complications. The following are several popular name-brand PPIs:

  • Nexium
  • Prevacid
  • Prilosec
  • Protonix
  • Aciphex
  • Vimovo
  • Zegerid

Unfortunately, the use of PPIs may not reflect a favorable risk-benefit profile. These OTC heartburn medications may be responsible for debilitating and catastrophic side effects that may not warrant their daily use. Patients who are taking multiple daily doses of it, may have an increased risk of fractures, particularly in the hip. Accordingly, PPIs may inhibit the calcium absorption, directly interfere with osteoclast function, or induce hypergastrinaemia, resulting in the reduction of bone mineral density. Although short term use of such medications is generally well tolerated, concern has grown over the use of PPIs for extended periods of time.

Due to the increased criticism about PPIs and hip fractures and several PPI lawsuits, numerous studies have been conducted to determine the association between the two. However, distinct limitations have provided challenges in acquiring appropriate statistics. It was not until a recent study, published in the British Medical Journal, acknowledged the increased risk between PPIs and hip fractures with substantiating clinical data. Researchers in the study sought to examine the association between long term PPI use and risk of hip fractures among postmenopausal women enrolled in a large prospective cohort, the Nurses’ Health Study, where detailed information about dietary and lifestyle factors are collected biennially. The study gave an in depth view of the affects that PPIs had on people with differing lifestyles and how those particular lifestyles pertain to the risk of hip fractures.

The study, which began in 1976, involved 121,700 females from the United States between the ages of 30 and 55. Each of the women were a registered nurse and asked to fill out a questionnaire every two years that updated researchers on information and new cases of fracture. Subsequently, a validated assessment of physical activity and eating habits was administered every two years.

In 1982, the study witnessed a change in the questionnaire questions. It was then that the women were asked to report all previous hip fractures along with the subsequent location, site and circumstance of the fracture. As time progressed, the questionnaires began to ask more specific questions pertaining to previous answers. In the end, researchers had a lineal and detailed analysis of the entire process.

After the conclusion of the study, data indicated that among 79,899 women, researchers documented 893 incidents of hip fractures over 565,786 person years of follow-up. In 2000, 6.7% of women who regularly used a PPI, where as women in 2008 witnessed a huge increase at 18.9%. The absolute risk of hip fracture among regular users of PPIs witnessed a 35% increase. The relation remained virtually unchanged, even after adding several lifestyle variables.

In summary, the regular use of PPIs was associated with an increased risk of hip fracture among the women, with the strongest risk being observed in those with the longest duration of use or with a history of smoking. Subsequently, these results provide compelling evidence of a significant association between PPI use and fracture. These findings support the recent decision by the FDA to revise labeling of PPIs to include concerns about the possible increase of hip fractures.

Do I Have a PPI Lawsuit?

The trial lawyers at The Senators (Ret.) Firm, LLP have decades of experience navigating through complex legislative and regulatory issues and litigating high stakes cases all over the nation. Our law firm focuses on the representation of plaintiffs in PPI lawsuits. We are currently accepting new cases in all 50 states.

If you or a loved one has been injured by taking a PPI you may be entitled to financial compensation. For a free case review, please click the link below or call toll free 24 hrs/day 1-(949) 557-5800.