A popular drug used to treat stomach and esophagus problems, such as acid reflux, has been found to be safe to use, even long term.
A clinical trial involving more than 17,500 people worldwide found that pantoprazole, a proton pump inhibitor (PPI), was safe to use throughout a three-year study. An article about the research was published today by the medical journal Gastroenterology.
The study was led by researchers of the Population Health Research Institute (PHRI) of McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences.
"Previously, observational studies reported that people taking PPIs long term were at increased risk for pneumonia, fractures, kidney failure, dementia, and even death," said first author Paul Moayyedi, a professor of medicine, gastroenterologist and researcher for the PHRI. He is also a researcher with the Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute of McMaster.
"We found long-term use of the PPI had few side effects. Although there were a few more intestinal infections in the study participants who took the pantoprazole, the benefits are expected to outweigh the risks."
The study involved 580 centres in 33 countries. The 17,598 participants were randomized to either taking the pantoprazole 40mg or a placebo once a day, and followed up for three years with interviews every six months.
PPIs have been found to be the most effective drug for treating gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD) and, because of their profound impact in reducing acid secretion, PPIs are recommended for many other acid-related conditions such as part of Helicobacter pylori infection treatment and indigestion.
"Given how commonly acid suppressive medication is used, it's important this class of drugs is safe. To our knowledge, this is the largest PPI trial, and the first randomized trial to evaluate those safety concerns about PPI therapy," Moayyedi said.
The study was funded by Bayer AG.
The paper can be read here.