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Nexium Maker Got Its Patent’s Worth at Patient Expense

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New York, NYThe heartburn drug Nexium is one of the top-selling brand-name drugs in the US, despite Nexium fracture risk caused by vitamin deficiencies and other serious side effects. There are other PPI medications on the market that are safer, cheaper and equally effective. Add the recent analysis by Consumer Reports concluding that Nexium is overused and consumers should question why they are still taking this drug.

Nexium, a proton pump inhibitor (PPI), is one of the most powerful prescription drugs for reducing heartburn, but PPIs come with so many serious risks it’s a wonder that anyone would outweigh its benefits over risks. And it’s also a wonder that the FDA hasn’t taken it off the market.

Perhaps one reason Nexium is so popular (sales exceed $6 billion annually) is because Big Pharma made it and other PPIs a household brand, through direct-to-consumer advertising. People believed from TV ads that their heartburn, which they used to treat with over-the-counter treatments like Tums, could put them at risk for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

And the cost: Consumer Reports notes that Nexium averages $240 a month, but generic PPIs Omeprazole and Lansoprazole average only $17 a month. Rather than lose a customer to a generic equivalent, AstraZeneca told Consumer Reports that it offers assistance programs to help patients who can’t afford the medication. (It doesn’t mention assistance for those consumers with Nexium fractures.)

A company spokesperson said, “AstraZeneca understands that our medicines will not benefit patients if they are unable to afford them and that’s why we’ve offered patient assistance programs for more than 35 years. These programs are designed to help qualifying patients afford their medicines through a variety of channels. In 2013, AstraZeneca provided nearly $975 million in savings to more than 567,000 patients in the US through its patient assistance programs.”

Given that its blockbuster purple pill makes billions of dollars each year, their “assistance programs” is a small cost of doing business. And they are probably betting those patients taking advantage of their programs are unaware of Nexium side effects.

In 2012, the FDA warned that PPIs, including Nexium, are linked to Clostridium Difficile, a life-threatening intestinal infection that is increasingly becoming drug resistant and hard to treat. Nexium patients probably didn’t read those 2013 medical journals that linked Nexium to fractures, and calcium and magnesium and vitamin B-12 deficiencies. Or the research from Houston Methodist Hospital that found PPIs might cause blood vessels to constrict and cardiovascular risks.

Nexium’s patent is up this year - it may have come in gangbusters, but it will likely go out trailing a slew of Nexium lawsuits.


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Posted by

I've been taking Nexium since it was introduced to the public.
I was diagnosed with hypoactive thyroid disease and given a generic thyroid prescription that made me me break out so I had to stop taking it. Through online research I discovered that Nexium can hinder B-12 absorption. I stopped taking Nexium and my thyroid was back to normal at my next 3 month appointment. Since then I have reduced the amount of the product Nexium. After reading this report, I will be looking for another medication for GERD.


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