Not rocket science
Let’s draw a Venn Diagram.
In one circle, you’ve got people who use heartburn medication. I’m thinking specifically about proton pump inhibitor drugs (such as Nexium, Prilosec, etc.).
Obviously, we’re talking about millions of people.
In another circle, you’ve got people who subscribe to FDA updates.
Now… How many people do you suppose land in the wedge where those circles intersect?
Here’s my guess: A few. And that’s trouble. Because the FDA has a critical message about PPI drugs. But it will probably never get through to the ones who need to hear it most.
A few years ago, I told you about new PPI research. It confirmed the link between PPI use and Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infection.
As I’ve mentioned before, C. diff. is like a Trojan Horse living in your gut. It’s down there right now. For most of us, most of the time, it’s under control. Good bacteria hold it in check. But when it finds an opening, it can trigger digestive inflammation and diarrhea so severe that some cases result in death.
And that’s why the FDA finally acted.
Earlier this year, the agency issued a Safety Alert. It warned that long-term PPI use might increase risk of chronic diarrhea caused by C. diff. The potential for trading off heartburn for a dangerous case of diarrhea is not what you’d call an attractive deal.
But this “new” warning is deeply annoying. I find it hard to believe that drug company and FDA scientists didn’t see this coming. I mean, the logic here is not rocket science…
One: PPI drugs suppress stomach acid.
Two: Stomach acid keeps C. diff from flourishing.
It’s not very hard to connect those dots!
But there’s one more PPI drawback. And it might be an important third connection.
Last year, the FDA told PPI makers that they must warn patients that this class of drugs may deplete magnesium levels. The potential problems here are enormous. Good magnesium levels are essential for a healthy heart, insulin control, clear cognition, and strong bones.
But research also shows that low magnesium may contribute to C. diff proliferation.
It’s been nearly 25 years since the FDA approved Prilosec, the first PPI drug. It’s ridiculous that the word is just now getting out about all these drawbacks.
Fortunately, you can treat heartburn and acid reflux without drugs. And you certainly don’t have to put your health at risk. Find out more at this link.
“Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) – Drug Safety Communication: Clostridium Difficile-Associated Diarrhea (CDAD) Can be Associated With Stomach Acid Drugs” FDA Safety Alert, 2/8/12, fda.gov
“Proton Pump Inhibitors and Risk for Recurrent Clostridium difficile Infection” Archives of Internal Medicine, Vol. 170, No. 9, 5/10/10, archinte.ama-assn.org
“Heartburn Drugs May Lead To Serious Diarrhea” Scott Hensley, NPR, 2/8/12, npr.org