Nexium is a prescription drug produced by AstraZeneca for the treatment of issues such as ulcers, heartburn, acid reflux and inflammation of the esophagus. Nexium is classified as a PPI, or proton pump inhibitor, which reduces acid in the stomach.
The drug is one of the best-selling pharmaceuticals worldwide and is advertised as “the little purple pill.”
Nexium has the effect of preventing absorption of calcium, which can cause bone deterioration and fracture. An FDA review of several studies concluded that use of Nexium between one and 12 years by patients aged 50 or older increases the risk of bone fractures.
In May 2010, the FDA issued a mandate that package labels for PPIs, including Nexium, must include the warning about bone damage risks. Since the FDA’s mandate was announced, several Nexium users have filed lawsuits claiming the drug caused rapid deterioration of bones that led to injuries such as broken or fractured legs, wrists, ankles, feet, hips, and spines.
In March 2011, the FDA announced that prescription PPIs such as Nexium may cause low serum magnesium if taken for periods longer than one year. Low serum magnesium levels can result in muscle spasms, irregular heartbeat, and convulsions. The FDA requires that information about the risks of low serum magnesium levels be added to warnings and precautions included on labels for prescription PPIs.
A particular hazard of long-term use of Nexium is an increased risk of hip fractures in women with a history of smoking. A study published in the British Medical Journal found an associated risk with chronic use of PPIs.
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