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Previously undisclosed drug side effects

People who take powerful antacid drugs, also known as proton pump inhibitors, face an increased risk of hip fractures, according to a report released by University of Pennsylvania researchers according to Steven Reinberg, a writer for the website HealthDay.

The study shows that common proton pump inhibitors that include drugs such as Aciphex, Nexium, Prevacid, Prilosec and Protonix could increase the risk of hip fractures by as much as 44 percent if taken for more than a year. That risk is even higher among those who are 50 or older, chronic users and those who take a higher dosage, according to the study carried out by Dr. Yu-Xiao Yang, assistant professor of medicine and epidemiology.

As Steven Reinberg reports:

“Yang speculated that these drugs hinder calcium absorption in some people. Stomach acid is needed to help the body absorb calcium, and proton pump inhibitors work by slowing the production of stomach acid.

Among the elderly, hip fractures have a death rate of 20 percent during the first year after the fracture. For those who survive this period, one in five requires nursing home care, an emergency department visit, hospitalization, surgery and rehabilitation, all with huge health-care costs. Yang said he thinks these drugs are prescribed too often.

“Not everybody is on this medicine for good reasons,” he said. “Proton pump inhibitors have been on the market for 15 years and the general feeling is they are safe to be taken on a chronic basis. So they are given without having a clear indication or without making sure the patient is actually benefiting from it.”

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