Proton pump inhibitors, (PPIs) a class of medications originally developed and licensed for the treatment of gastric ulcers and gastric reflux, are also used off-label in gastritis. “Off label” refers to the practice of prescribing a medication for a purpose not tested or approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The off-label use varies from 30 – 40% of prescriptions (up to 55% in ICU settings, with poor evidence that they prevent stress ulcers). PPIs are sold under several brand names, including Nexium, Prevacid and Prilosec, and previous studies have linked their use to bone fracture, pneumonia and Clostridium difficile infection. Long-term use can also lead to low levels of magnesium in the blood, which can precipitate seizures, arrhythmias and muscle spasms, according to the FDA.
Now, a new study links long-term use of PPIs to a 20 to 50% higher risk of developing chronic kidney disease (CKD). The actual reason for developing kidney failure is unknown.