Over-prescription of reflux medications is causing risk to patients

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In July 2017, we posted an article on research that linked common reflux drugs to increase risk of premature death. The research indicated that medications such as Nexium, Somac or Pariet were linked with increased risks of kidney disease, dementia and bone fractures in people with osteoporosis.

Since this time, there have been education programs by organisations such as NPS MedicineWise aimed at reducing the rate of prescription of these drugs. A new Australian study has found that despite the known risks, rates of inappropriate prescribing remain high. The researchers found:

Despite the promotion of stepping down or discontinuing PPI [proton pump inhibitor] treatment in these initiatives, we did not observe any changes in the rates of switching to lower PPI strengths or discontinuation of treatment

irThe study findings are concerning for consumers taking these types of medications, given the known risks associated with the long term use of these drugs. Consumers taking the medications should discuss the risks of long term use with their regular doctor. In our article on hospital complications and medical negligence, we recommended 7 questions to ask a doctor to reduce risk of complications arising from medical treatment:

In 2018 the Harvard University recommended 7 questions to ask a doctor when they prescribe a new medication. These are:

  1. Why do I need this medication, and how does it work?
  2. What are the risks and benefits?
  3. Are there side effects?
  4. How do I take this medication?
  5. Do I need to avoid anything while taking this new medication?
  6. How soon will the medication work, and how long will I be taking it?
  7. When will you review how well this is working for me?

These questions are well worth considering with your doctor if you a taking a medication for reflux, indigestion or heartburn.

Further articles by elringtons on medication side effects or complications

Australian Study: Bruno C, Pearson S, Daniels B, et al, ‘Passing the acid test? Evaluating the impact of national education initiatives to reduce proton pump inhibitor use in Australia’, BMJ Quality & Safety Published Online First: 22 October 2019

For more information or to make an appointment in either our Canberra or Queanbeyan office please do not hesitate to contact Matthew Bridger or Thomas Maling:

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