Pharmacist Says This Drug Is Over-Prescribed — Best Life

As a nation, we are over-prescribed. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about half of Americans have taken at least one prescription medication in the past 30 days at any given time. More shockingly, a quarter of Americans took three or more medications during that time, and 12% took five or more. In total, Americans fill more than 860 million prescriptions a year.

Although many of these prescriptions are essential for the treatment of acute or chronic illnesses, unnecessary prescriptions can put you at high risk for unforeseen drug interactions. That’s why we asked Tessa SpencerPharmD, specialist in community pharmacy and functional medicine, which drug is most obviously over-prescribed. Read on to find out his answer, which might surprise you.

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Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are used to treat ulcers, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), erosion of the esophageal lining, and specific gastrointestinal disorders. They work by removing acidity from the stomach lining, allowing your stomach and esophageal tissue to heal. While some PPIs are available over the counter, others are only available by prescription. According drug watchthis class of drugs is among the most commonly used around the world: Approximately 15 million Americans use PPIs each year.

Spencer argues that PPIs such as Prilosec are among the most prescribed drugs on the market. Many patients taking PPIs don’t have a documented gastrointestinal diagnosis that supports their use of the drug, she says.

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PPIs are generally considered safe when taken as directed for the recommended duration. However, Spencer warns that PPIs can cause a range of serious side effects for some patients. She directed us to a study 2019 published in the Clinical Medicine Research Journalsuggesting that PPIs increase the risk of bone fractures, gastric polyps, low blood magnesium levels, Clostridium difficile infections, and anemia when used long term.

drug watch adds that those who take PPIs are at an increased risk of kidney problems and heart attacks. “Thousands of people have filed lawsuits against PPIs. They claim PPIs caused kidney failure and other injuries,” the site says.

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Studies show that patients regularly push the boundaries of what is considered safe when it comes to how long PPIs are used. “PPIs are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for 10 days for the treatment of Helicobacter pylori, up to two weeks for ‘heartburn’, up to eight weeks for GERD and for two to six months for ulcers. Nevertheless, in a community survey, 60% remained on PPIs for more than a year and 31% remained on it for three years or more,” the 2019 study states.

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a man in his late 50s grabs one of his prescription medicine bottles as he sits at his dining room table

Spencer notes that many people continue to use PPIs longer than they should because they experience rebound hyperacidity within weeks of stopping. In fact, about half of patients experience symptomatic withdrawal, requiring decrease the drug over the weeks.

Talk to your doctor if you need help reducing your PPI intake or if you think you are having side effects.

Best Life offers the most up-to-date information from top experts, new research and health agencies, but our content is not intended to replace professional advice. Regarding any medications you are taking or any other health questions you have, always consult your health care provider directly.

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