The prescription drug Prevacid, along with its generic version lansoprazole, is a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) used to treat gastrointestinal health issues caused by excess stomach acid such as heartburn, acid reflux, ulcers, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Prevacid has been available as a prescription and over-the-counter medication since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved it in 1995. Currently, the FDA has approved Prevacid and lansoprazole for treatment of the following health conditions associated with overproduction of stomach acid:
- Duodenal ulcers
- Erosive esophagitis
- Gastric ulcers
- Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome
Recent studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) highlight a link between long-term use of Prevacid and serious side effects. Kidney failure, cancer of the esophagus, and bone fractures are just some of the serious adverse events that you should be aware of if you take this classification of heartburn drugs.
How Prevacid Works to Reduce Stomach Acid
When taken as directed, Prevacid reduces the amount of stomach acid by blocking an enzyme located in the stomach responsible for producing acid. Prevacid prevents the release of stomach acid by blocking its proton pumps. This is the reason that healthcare professionals refer to Prevacid and other brand name and over-the-counter medications used to reduce stomach acid as proton pump inhibitors.
The esophagus can heal more effectively when Prilosec reduces the amount of acid in the stomach. As the JAMA medical studies have proven, however, Prilosec and other PPIs do not always work as they should.
Prevacid and Potentially Adverse Events
All brand name and over-the-counter medications have the potential for mild and serious side effects. People who use Prevacid for less than one year typically only experience mild side effects such as constipation, diarrhea, nausea, and stomach pain. Although rare, serious side effects such as seizures, muscle weakness, involuntary jerking muscle movements, decreased urine output, or an abnormal heartbeat can occur. Unlike adverse events that may continue indefinitely, serious side effects usually go away after discontinuing the use of Prevacid.
Serious adverse events are typically associated with long-term use of Prevacid, which healthcare professionals define as taking the brand name or generic version for 12 or more continuous months. We outline several long-term adverse events associated with the long-term use of Prevacid below.
Hypomagnesemia, iron deficiency anemia, and pernicious anemia all have a close association with long-term use of Prevacid. Anemia means that hemoglobin present in the blood has fallen below the reference range listed by healthcare professionals.
Using any PPI for an extended time can weaken bones and increase the risk of bone fractures, especially in the wrist, spine, or hip.
Chronic Kidney Disease
The risk of kidney problems increases by as much as 50 percent with the long-term use of Prevacid according to JAMA. Patients who took higher doses have the greatest increased risk of chronic kidney disease. Over time, chronic kidney disease can lead to kidney failure, also known as renal failure.
Heart Attack and Other Cardiovascular Diseases
PPIs like Prevacid can cause an increased risk of heart attack by decreasing the production of a substance that naturally protects the blood vessels. When the internal lining of blood vessels surrounding the heart sustain damage, it can cause blood clots leading to heart attack or other types of cardiovascular damage.
Gastric or Esophageal Cancer
Prevacid and other PPIs increase the body’s production of gastrin. Having a condition known as hypergastrinemia poses an increased risk of developing gastric cancer. Tumors can also form in the esophagus among people who already have a diagnosis of GERD.
Infections Caused by Reduced Stomach Acid
The human body requires adequate amounts of stomach acid secretion for optimal gastrointestinal health. PPIs can decrease the amount of acid by as much as 99 percent, which is far more than necessary. Having that little stomach acid for a long period of time presents a higher risk of serious infections such as pneumonia, prolonged diarrhea, and clostridium difficile enteritis.
Reduced oxygen and blood flow to the brain causes tissues and cells within the brain to die. JAMA estimates that the long-term use of Prevacid causes up to a 30 percent increased risk of ischemic stroke.
Increased Risk of Dementia
A recent study published in JAMA Neurology showed a relationship between long-term use of Prevacid and up to a 50 percent increased risk of developing dementia. The risk can increase with over-the-counter heartburn medications and antacids.
Prevacid Health Warnings on Label
Since 2010, the FDA has required that the manufacturers of brand name and over-the-counter PPIs include a warning label about the following on its packaging:
- Autoimmune disorders, including lupus
- Diarrhea associated with clostridium-difficile
- Low magnesium levels
- Vitamin B12 Deficiency
If you have experienced any of these health risks, the first thing to do is schedule an appointment with your regular healthcare professional for medical advice. Once you have started a treatment plan, you may wish to consider joining a class action or mass tort lawsuit against the manufacturers of Prevacid. You also have the option of filing an individual personal injury lawsuit to receive reimbursement of medical expenses, lost wages, and more.