A recent series of articles caught my attention as a dangerous drug attorney because it affects common over-the-counter drugs for acid reflux as well as prescription versions. The FDA announced March 2 that protein pump inhibitor drugs, including Prilosec (omeprazole), Prevacid (lansoprazole) and Zegarix (omeprazole and sodium bicarbonate), have been associated with low levels of magnesium in the blood of people taking them for three months or longer. Formally known as hypomagnesemia, the condition can cause muscle weakness, confusion, hallucinations, irregular heartbeat and seizures. The FDA recommends that patients use over-the-counter PPIs only as directed, and doctors monitor magnesium levels in patients taking prescription drugs.
Proton pump inhibitors are prescribed for acid reflux (gastroesophogal reflux disease), stomach ulcers and other digestive conditions. Reuters reported that Americans filled about 21 million prescriptions for the drugs in 2009, and weaker over-the-counter versions of some are available. The FDA’s announcement said it had received about 48 reports of low magnesium levels. Of those patients, about a quarter didn’t improve after taking magnesium supplements, and the drugs were eventually discontinued. The biggest risk of hypomagnesemia may be developing a heart arrhythmia, which can lead to a stroke in some cases. But low magnesium levels can also create high blood pressure and neurological side effects including tremors and involuntary movements, seizures, hallucinations, depression and confusion.
As a defective drug lawyer, I’m pleased that the FDA is taking early action on this drug’s potential safety risks. There are no reported incidents of people dying or sustaining permanent disabilities from proton pump inhibitors, but that’s a possibility given the risk of arrhythmia-related stroke or epileptic seizure. It’s an even stronger possibility for people who are on a PPI as well as diuretics or the heart drug digoxin, which is used to treat heart failure and atrial fibrillation, a type of heart arrhythmia. Those are not uncommon drugs, and neither are PPIs, which means millions could be at risk. With such frightening and serious conditions at stake, patients should be well armed with information when they consider starting a PPI.
Based in St. Louis and Belleville, Ill., Carey, Danis & Lowe represents people around the United States who were seriously hurt or lost a loved one after taking medicines they thought were safe. Like all manufacturers, manufacturers of prescription drugs have a legal obligation to make sure their products are safe to use as directed, or warn customers about potential risks. Failure to do that — intentionally or not — can make the manufacturer legally liable for any injury that results. Our pharmaceutical liability attorneys help clients collect damages for those injuries, including compensation for financial costs like medical care and lost income as well as compensation for their pain, suffering and personal losses.
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