Side effects of the heartburn medication Protonix (generic: pantoprazole) may include chronic kidney disease (CKD), a life-threatening condition that occurs when the kidney lose their ability to function.
Free Confidential Lawsuit Evaluation: If you or a loved one suffered kidney damage after taking Protonix, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a suit against the manufacturer and our lawyers can help.
Update: New Study Links Protonix to CKD, Renal Failure
April 14, 2016 – A new 5-year study of proton pump inhibitor heartburn medications has found that they can lead to kidney disease, and even renal failure, at an alarming rate. Researchers compared PPIs to histamine H2 receptor blockers, and found that 15% of PPI users were diagnosed with CKD, compared to 11% of those on H2-blockers. This translated into a 28% increased risk of kidney disease among the PPI users.
What is Protonix?
Protonix is a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) heartburn medication that works by reducing the amount of acid the stomach produces, thereby reducing the symptoms of heartburn and pain caused by stomach juices backing up into the esophagus. This mechanism of action also allows the esophagus to heal. Protonix is made by Pfizer, and was approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in February 2000.
What’s the Problem?
Concerns have been raised that PPI heartburn drugs are widely overused due to the assumption that they are safe. However, it appears that important safety information has been withheld from consumers and the medical community. Several recent studies have identified a link between use of proton pump inhibitors like Protonix and and increased risk for severe, potentially life-threatening kidney damage.
Evidence suggests that PPIs may increase the risk of acute interstitial nephritis (also known as tubulo-interstitial nephritis), a form of kidney damage that affects the interstitium of the kidneys surrounding the tubules. In 2014, FDA announced new warnings would be added to PPI medications stating that use of the drugs may cause nephritis. These delayed warnings may have caused many patients to develop the condition since they were previously unaware of the dangers.
According to MedlinePlus, signs and symptoms of nephritis include:
- Decrease in urine output
- Blood in the urine
- Water retention
- Weight gain
- Feeling bloated
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
Acute Kidney Injury
An April 2015 study published in CMAJ Open identified an increased risk of acute kidney injury (AKI) associated with PPI heartburn medications like Protonix. Researchers looked at data on 300,000 older patients and found that PPI users had a 2.5 fold increased risk of acute kidney injury, as well as 3x higher risk of acute interstitial nephritis compared to non-users.
AKI is characterized by a sudden decrease in kidney function that occurs within a few hours or a few days, according to the National Kidney Foundation. The condition causes a buildup of waste products in the bloodstream, which makes it difficult for the kidneys to keep a balance of fluid in the body. Acute kidney injury can affect other organs such as the brain, heart and lungs.
Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)
Concerns were again raised over the effects of PPI use on the kidneys in a January 2016 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, which found that the medications may increase the the risk of chronic kidney disease (CKD) by as much as 50%. Researchers looked at data on over 10,000 test subjects over a period of more than a decade, finding that compared with patients who did not take the drugs, PPI use was linked to a higher incidence of CKD. These findings have led researchers to call for additional studies to determine whether limiting PPI therapy may curb the risk. It has been conjectured that the risk of chronic kidney disease associated with proton pump inhibitors likely stems from recurrent acute kidney injury or interstitial nephritis.
According to the Mayo Clinic, most patients with chronic kidney disease have no symptoms because the body is able to tolerate a large amount of reduction in kidney function. However, when they do present, symptoms may include:
- Loss of appetite
- Fatigue and weakness
- Sleep problems
- Changes in urine output
- Decreased mental sharpness
- Muscle twitches and cramps
- Swelling of feet and ankles
- Persistent itching
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- High blood pressure
CKD symptoms are often non-specific, meaning they may be caused by a variety of other illnesses. And due to the fact that the kidneys are highly adaptable and able to compensate for lost function, telltale symptoms may not appear until irreversible damage has occurred.
Do I Have a Protonix Kidney Disease Lawsuit?
The Pharmaceutical Litigation Group at our law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in Protonix lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new kidney disease cases in all 50 states.
Free Confidential Case Evaluation: Again, if you were injured by Protonix side effects, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a suit and we can help.