Millions of Americans use popular heartburn medications known as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) to manage acid reflux and related health problems. Common PPIs include Nexium®, Prilosec®, and Prevacid®. While PPIs have always come with a risk of side effects, new research has shown they can also increase the risk of severe coronavirus complications. If you or a loved one were diagnosed with COVID-19 while using a PPI heartburn drug and were later admitted to the ICU, placed on a ventilator, or if your loved one died, you may be able to file a PPI lawsuit.
Breaking News: Studies Link Some Popular Heartburn Medications To COVID-19 Complications
Starting as early as June 2020, a growing number of studies have shown that people who use heartburn medicine are at greater risk of developing serious complications from the coronavirus — including death. Conducted by researchers throughout the world, these studies note that PPIs can weaken the body’s ability to fight infections like COVID-19.
While this research continues to unfold, major companies that manufacture PPIs have a responsibility to warn consumers and the doctors prescribing the medication.
COVID-19 and Heartburn Medicine
Companies that produce heartburn medicine deserve to be held accountable for not warning people about their products’ risks during the pandemic.
If you or a loved one were diagnosed with COVID-19 while using a brand-name PPI — such as AcipHex, Dexilant, Nexium, Prevacid, Prilosec, Protonix, or Zegerid — and were later admitted to the ICU, placed on a ventilator, or died, contact Sokolove Law today. You may be able to file a proton pump inhibitors lawsuit and receive financial compensation.
As of 2020, Sokolove Law has recovered over $1.7 Billion for other victims and families harmed by dangerous drugs, and our PPI attorneys are standing by to help you.
Free Case Review
You may be eligible for compensation. Get the help you deserve.
What Is a Proton Pump Inhibitor?
Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) are a type of heartburn medication that prevent the body from making stomach acids. They are used to address chronic health problems related to the overproduction of stomach acids, such as ulcers and acid reflux. PPIs may be prescribed by a physician or purchased over-the-counter.
- Prescription PPIs are typically used to treat conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), stomach and small intestine ulcers, and inflammation of the esophagus.
- Over-the-counter PPIs are generally used to treat frequent heartburn.
PPIs are some of the most commonly prescribed drugs in the world, with an estimated 15 million Americans using them.
What Is the Difference Between Heartburn Medications and PPIs?
The main difference is that not all heartburn medications are PPIs. There are other medications that affect the body in different ways to treat heartburn.
For example, heartburn medicines called H2RAs also limit the amount of stomach acids that the body produces, but they are less powerful than PPIs. Research has not found a link between H2RA heartburn medicines and serious COVID-19 complications.
If you are concerned or unsure, ask your doctor if your heartburn medication is a PPI.
How Does a Proton Pump Inhibitor Work?
PPIs interact with glands that “pump” acid into the stomach to help with digestion. They also prevent acid levels in the stomach from reaching excessive levels.
“By lowering stomach acid levels, [PPIs] reduce acid reflux into the esophagus and the resulting heartburn symptoms.”
– Harvard Medical School
Heartburn Medicine Side Effects and Coronavirus
Most medications come with side effects, and PPI heartburn medications are no exception. Notable PPI side effects include life-threatening kidney damage, osteoporosis, and dementia.
In terms of coronavirus complications, PPIs pose a risk for several reasons. PPIs reduce the amount of stomach acid in a person’s body. This may cause them to develop a condition called hypochlorhydria, which is a dangerously low level of stomach acid.
Researchers believe that lower amounts of stomach acid can allow coronavirus to survive longer and spread throughout the body, making serious complications more likely.
It is also thought that:
- Existing side effects of PPIs (like kidney and cardiovascular problems) can make COVID-19 complications worse.
- PPIs can negatively impact immune system function, making it harder for the body to fight coronavirus infections.
- Those who take PPIs two times per day may be at a higher risk of coronavirus complications than those who take the medications just once a day, according to a study released in August 2020.
Nexium® Side Effects
Nexium® is one of the most popular PPI heartburn medications. It combines a PPI called esomeprazole with magnesium to treat heartburn.
The official Nexium safety information includes warnings for serious kidney damage, bone problems, and lupus, among other less serious side effects.
Taking Nexium may also increase the risk of coronavirus complications, but there have been no updates to the medication’s warnings as of December 2020.
Prilosec® Side Effects
Prilosec® is a heartburn medication that uses the PPI omeprazole. Like Nexium, some of the most serious Prilosec side effects include kidney and bone damage — but this PPI may also lead to serious COVID-19 infections.
Preliminary results from a 2020 study on PPIs and coronavirus specifically mentioned Prilosec. Researchers found that patients who took Prilosec and other PPIs were 2-3 times more likely to die from coronavirus than those who did not.
This study is awaiting final peer review, but it echoes similar concerns found by other research studies. However, the makers of Prilosec have not commented on any increased coronavirus risks as of December 2020.
List of Branded Proton Pump Inhibitors Linked to COVID-19 Complications
Many well-known PPIs may cause people to develop severe cases of coronavirus.
Brand-name PPIs that may cause COVID-19 complications include:
- Nexium® and Nexium® 24HR* (esomeprazole magnesium)
- Prevacid® and Prevacid® 24HR* (lansoprazole)
- Prilosec® and Prilosec OTC®* (omeprazole)
- Protonix® (pantoprazole sodium)
- AcipHex® (rabeprazole sodium)
- Dexilant™ (dexlansoprazole)
- Zegerid® and Zegerid OTC®* (omeprazole and Sodium bicarbonate)
*Available over the counter
FAQs About Proton Pump Inhibitors and COVID-19
Are proton pump inhibitors safe?
The aforementioned studies suggest that proton pump inhibitors may not be safe to use during the coronavirus pandemic. Talk to your doctor before changing or stopping any medications you take.
*Sokolove Law does not provide medical advice. Consult with a doctor if you are currently taking PPI heartburn medications and are concerned about the risks of COVID-19.
What are the adverse effects of long-term use of proton pump inhibitors?
As it relates to the coronavirus pandemic, one of the most significant risks of using a PPI long-term is decreased stomach acid. This side effect impairs immune function by allowing the virus to survive longer within the body. In turn, long-term PPI users may be more likely to contract COVID-19 and suffer related complications.
Does taking heartburn medications increase my risk of coronavirus?
More research needs to be done, however, several recent studies have linked the use of heartburn medications — specifically PPIs — to a higher risk of COVID-19 infections.
For example, a study published in August 2020 found that:
- Those who took PPIs once a day had more than double the risk compared to those who didn’t
- People who took PPIs twice a day were nearly four times as likely to develop COVID-19
- Those who used H2RAs did not have an increased risk of COVID-19
Further, a July 2020 research study noted that those who used PPIs and developed COVID-19 had more secondary infections compared to patients who did not take PPIs.
If you are a frequent heartburn medication user, talk to your doctor about other medications or lifestyle changes that can reduce heartburn without introducing serious COVID-19 risks.
Can I file a coronavirus proton pump inhibitor lawsuit?
It may be possible for you to file a proton pump inhibitor lawsuit if you or a loved one developed the coronavirus while using PPIs. A lawsuit can award you with financial compensation to cover medical bills and other costs.
Learn more about filing a coronavirus proton pump inhibitor lawsuit with Sokolove Law by calling our team at (800) 995-1212.
Sokolove Law: A Proton Pump Inhibitors Law Firm
People who used PPIs should be warned about the severe risk of infection, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, PPI manufacturers are silent, putting people in danger — and the Sokolove Law proton pump inhibitors lawyers are standing by to help.
If you or a loved one were diagnosed with COVID-19 while taking a brand-name PPI and were admitted to the ICU, were on a ventilator, or died due to the diagnosis, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact us right away to get a free case review. Our team will connect you with a PPI lawyer if you are eligible to file a proton pump inhibitors lawsuit.