Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Heartburn drugs are worth risk, some say

Despite link to hip fractures, 'what's the other choice?'

By Chris Emery
sun reporter

Originally published January 8, 2007

When a recent study found that a popular class of heartburn drugs might weaken bones, Dorothea E. Kilner was alarmed, but not just because her medication could contribute to a hip fracture.

For Kilner and the millions of Americans who suffer from chronic heartburn, the greater threat may be losing access to prescription drugs such as Prevacid, Prilosec, Protonix and Nexium. They're far more effective than earlier generations of heartburn medication, according to doctors and to patients who rely on them for relief.

"The real question is, what's the other choice?" said Dr. David B. Posner, chief of gastroenterology at Mercy Medical Center. "Most people who take these drugs know that once they stop taking them their pain is going to come back."

Kilner has already made up her mind. "I'm going to continue taking my Nexium because it works for me," said the 72- year-old Timonium resident. "The quality of life has improved for me by taking it."

Posner said the benefits of these drugs, known as proton pump inhibitors, or PPIs, outweigh the risks. While the study results announced Dec. 27 suggested that older people who take the drugs might want to take extra precautions to prevent bone loss, the link between hip fractures and the drugs is inconclusive, he said.

For the complete article, click here.

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