The present review summarizes the past year's literature, both clinical and basic science, regarding potential adverse effects of proton pump inhibitors.
Proton pump inhibitors are amongst the most widely prescribed and overprescribed medications worldwide. Although generally considered well tolerated, epidemiologic studies mining large databases have reported a panoply of purported serious adverse effects associated with proton pump inhibitors, including chronic kidney disease, cognitive decline, myocardial infarction, stroke, bone fracture and even death. It should be noted that the quality of the evidence underlying these associations is very low and these studies, by design, cannot ascribe cause and effect. Nonetheless, these associations have been sensationalized in the media and misinterpreted by patients and providers. Unintended consequences of the fake news are that patients are not being prescribed and/or taking clinical guideline-recommended proton pump inhibitors to prevent and treat complications from gastroesophageal reflux disease and upper gastrointestinal bleeding precipitated by NSAIDs and dual antiplatelet therapies. In addition, physicians, who already have limited time to interact with their patients, are spending an inordinate amount of additional time placing these findings into proper perspective and reassuring their patients when initiating treatment as well as on every follow-up visit.
Most of the recent highly publicized serious adverse effects ascribed to proton pump inhibitors are not based on demonstrable evidence. Nevertheless, when proton pump inhibitors are prescribed long-term, they should be used at the lowest effective dose and the need for their use periodically reassessed.
aDivision of Gastroenterology, Department of Medicine, Virginia Commonwealth University Health System
bHunter Holmes McGuire Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Richmond, Virginia, USA
Correspondence to Mitchell L. Schubert, MD, McGuire VAMC, Code 111N, Gastroenterology Section, 1201 Broad Rock Blvd., Richmond, VA 23249, USA. Tel: +1 804 675 5021; fax: +1 804 675 5816; e-mail: Mitchell.Schubert@va.gov