They may not be hanging out on “the corner” or look like your typical druggie, but there are millions of people — people just like you and me — who are addicted to a drug, and they’re completely unaware of it.
In fact, they believe the drug is a “lifesaver” and they HAVE to have it because it’s the only thing that makes them better.
In reality, the drug actually makes their condition worse, so it becomes essential to their well-being. They can’t get by without it.
There’s a word for that: hooked.
They’ve been hooked alright — hooked and reeled in by drug companies that make huge profits from patients’ sad dependency on their legal drugs.
The Most Beautiful Trick
As usual, Dr. Spreen called it. Actually, he nailed it!
In an e-mail I sent nearly nine years ago (Wow…I’ve been doing this a long time!), Dr. Spreen explained how proton pump inhibitor drugs (such as Nexium, Prilosec, Prevacid, etc.) relieve heartburn and acid reflux temporarily, but end up perpetuating these conditions.
This shameful situation recently surfaced in a petition to the FDA. In that petition, Dr. Sidney Wolfe of Public Citizen calls on the agency to immediately require PPI drug makers to add a black box warning about the risk of developing dependency to the drugs, along with additional black box warnings about serious health risks linked to longtime use of the drugs.
I’ve often mocked black box warnings as a pretty superficial way to warn people their lives might be in danger. But it’s better than nothing, and anyone about to use a PPI drug deserves a more substantial warning than they currently receive.
For those of you who might not have been reading every word I’ve written since 2002, let me catch you up on Dr. Spreen’s very clear warning about PPIs.
He explained that heartburn or reflux occurs when stomach acid irritates the esophagus by getting past the GE sphincter that separates the esophagus from the stomach.
The acid isn’t the problem. You NEED that acid to digest food. The problem is the acid is simply reaching a spot it shouldn’t reach.
That’s when the drugs are brought in to get rid of the acid.
Dr. Spreen: “Here’s the kicker: if you ‘kill it off’ (using antacids, acid blockers, etc.) the body, in its wisdom, saves the energy required to protect the esophagus from the stomach’s (normally) more acid environment and weakens the GE sphincter. This allows any remaining acid to sometimes slip past and irritate the esophagus.
“So, you take an antacid…and you feel better, because you lessen even more what little acid remains that has been irritating your already sensitive esophagus.
“The above association reinforces that you need more antacid next time, since it helps in the short term. So look what’s happening — the short term ‘fix’ assures that the problem will continue (and even worsen).
“Is that not the most beautiful trick? The ‘cure’ assures its own increasing necessity…it’s positively brilliant (and diabolical).”
In 2002, a Boston Globe article about PPI drugs had this to say: “Prilosec is so good, and patients so attached to it, that doctors jokingly call it ‘purple crack.'”
Turns out that hilarious little joke is all too real.
If PPIs only created addiction by perpetuating heartburn, that would be reason enough for a black box warning.
But let’s go one better — let’s take this junk off the market immediately.
Two reasons: 1) This drug is frequently prescribed to seniors, and 2) The dangers linked with this drug are especially dangerous for them.
Earlier this year, the FDA warned that prescription PPI drugs can deplete magnesium levels. FDA: “Low serum magnesium levels can result in serious adverse events including muscle spasm (tetany), irregular heartbeat (arrhythmias), and convulsions (seizures).”
Magnesium is also necessary for cognitive health and managing blood sugar — two health concerns that could hardly be more important to seniors. But healthy bones rely on magnesium too. So it’s no coincidence that last year, the FDA issued a PPI warning about “possible increased risk of fractures of the hip, wrist, and spine with high doses or long-term use.”
You don’t have to fall victim to this very vicious cycle. Read about Dr. Spreen’s recommendation for a simple, inexpensive, and (most importantly) NON-habit-forming heartburn treatment here.
Jenny Thompson is the Director of the Health Sciences Institute and editor of the HSI e-Alert. Through HSI, she and her team uncover important health information and expose ridiculous health misinformation, most notably through the HSI e-Alert.
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