The drugs are Aciphex, Nexium, Prevacid, Prilosec (called Losec in Europe), and Protonix. The drugs shut down the chemical "pump" needed by stomach cells to make acid. They are very effective for treating(gastrointestinal reflux disease).
That makes the acid-fighting drugs very popular. Together they rang up nearly $13 billion in U.S. sales in 2005 -- a year in which American doctors wrote more than 95 million prescriptions for the drugs. Prilosec is now available over the counter.
Now a new study shows that when taken long term the drugs may have a side effect: hip fracture. People over age 50 who take the drugs for more than one year have a 44% increased risk of breaking a hip, find University of Pennsylvania researchers Yu-Xiao Yang, MD, and colleagues.
Taking proton-pump inhibitors at higher doses -- and for longer periods -- dramatically increases the risk. Long-term, high-dose use of the drugs ups the risk of hip fracture by 245%.
"Proton-pump inhibitor therapy is associated with a significantly higher risk of hip fractures, with the highest risk seen among those receiving high-dose proton-pump-inhibitor therapy," Yang and colleagues conclude.
The findings appear in the Dec. 27 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association.