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There are 30 million Americans who are regular users of different types of proton pump inhibitor drugs. 1 In fact, PPIs are among the top 10 types of drugs prescribed to patients receiving Medicare benefits. 2 These drugs are prescribed for Americans who suffer from acid reflux, many of whom complain of symptoms while sleeping, as well as related conditions.
Symptoms of acid reflux may include a burning sensation in the chest and throat, a sour taste in the mouth, difficulty swallowing (dysphagia), dry cough, hoarseness or sore throat, and chest pain. Sufferers may regurgitate food or stomach acid. Some describe feeling as though they have a lump in their throat. 3
PPIs have been available in the U.S. by prescription since 1990, and many can now be purchased over-the-counter (OTC). 4 While these drugs may relieve discomfort from heartburn, concerns have been raise of the safety of PPIs and potential side effects.
They work by blocking the production of stomach acid, giving damaged esophageal tissue time to heal. When the esophagus is functioning properly, its sphincter muscle prevents the backwash of stomach acid from coming up and causing painful irritation and damage characteristic of GERD and heartburn. 5
Popular Proton Pump Inhibitor Brands
Doctors prescribe proton pump inhibitors for heartburn and to “prevent and treat ulcers in the duodenum (where most ulcers develop) and the stomach” and esophageal inflammation. 6
Familiar brand names of PPIs include:
- Nexium & Nexium 24 HR (esomeprazole)
- Prilosec & Prilosec OTC (omeprazole)
- Prevacid & Prevacid 24 HR (lansoprazole)
- AcipHex & AcipHex Sprinkle (rabeprazole)
- Protonix (pantoprazole)
- Zegerid & Zegerid OTC (omeprazole with sodium bicarbonate)
- Dexilant & Dexilant SoluTab (dexlansoprazole) 7
Drug Interactions with PPI Medications
Proton pump inhibitors may interact with certain drugs. One example is clopidogrel, sold in the U.S. under the brand name Plavix. 8
Clopidogrel is intended to reduce the possibility of blood clot formation in arteries. People who are at risk of a heart attack or stroke may be prescribed this medication. 9
In 2009, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning that patients should not mix clopidogrel with certain acid reflux drugs. 10The FDA warns that taking clopidogrel with omeprazole may reduce the medication’s efficacy.