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Acid-suppressing drugs linked to increased risk of fracture

Irish Medicines Board issues notice to medical professionals in its latest drug safety newsletter.

File photo of a spinal x-ray
File photo of a spinal x-ray
Image: planetc1 via Creative Commons

COMMONLY-PRESCRIBED proton pump inhibitors (PPI) – drugs to treat ulcers and acid reflux – have been linked to an increased risk of bone fractures among certain long-term patients, according to the Irish Medicines Board.

In its latest drug safety newsletter, the IMB advises healthcare workers:

Long term use of PPIs (> 1 year), especially at high doses is associated with a modest increase in the risk of fractures predominantly in the elderly and those with other recognised risk factors.

The Pharmacovigilance Working Party of the European Medicines Agency investigated the link between the drugs and the increased risk of fracture after several studies suggested a slight risk increase.

The IMB notes that the studies differed in terms of the risk level and the duration of drug treatment involved.

The studies did not examine PPIs which could be obtained over-the-counter without prescription as these medicines are only authorised for short-term use and “the evidence was not considered sufficiently robust to indicate an increase in risk for PPI-containing medicinal products available without prescription,” the newsletter said.

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