Heartburn drugs OK for short term, but risks remain

Consumer Reports News: March 25, 2011 12:54 PM

The over-the-counter drugs Prilosec and Prevacid are safe when taken short term, according to an annoucement this week from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. But many people take the drugs long-term, increasing their risk of fractures.

The FDA said that OTC proton-pump inhibitors don't pose a fracture risk when they're taken for less than 14 days, three times a year. However, taking the drugs longer or more often does increase those risks, especially when taken for a year or longer.

That's why we say consumers should exercise caution when using the drugs to treat heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Over-the-counter doses of PPI medicines should be:

  • Omeprazole (found in Prilosec OTC and others) — 20 mg tablet (Once a day for no more than 14 days. The 14-day course may repeated every 4 months.)
  • Lansoprazole (Prevacid 24HR) — 15 mg tablet (Once a day for no more than 14 days. The 14-day course may repeated every 4 months.)

See our Best Buy Drug Recommendations for heartburn drugs. And always consult your physician if you suffer from chronic, digestive discomfort.

Possible increased risk of fractures of the hip, wrist, and spine with the use of proton pump inhibitors [US FDA]
Heartburn Drug Risk Unlikely [WSJ]

Paul Eng


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