Prilosec Killed My Husband

Prilosec killed my husband  (not taking it can also be perilous)

Jeannette Franks, PHD January 2019

Recent studies suggest that if my beloved husband had not taken Prilosec, a PPI, he would be alive today. PPIs are a class of drugs called proton-pump inhibitors. These medicines block production of stomach acid. Long-time use of PPIs also interferes with the body’s ability to absorb calcium, which can lead to osteopenia, especially in women and older people. Osteopenia is a precursor of osteoporosis, devastating thinning of bones.

Osteoporosis is difficult to treat and irreversible. Although there are medications that slow the process, those medications have negative side effects and do not produce the quality of bone one would want.

Thinning of the bones after age 70 is a risk factor for fractures, hospitalization, and premature death. Yet if you read the precautions on a Prilosec label,  it says nothing about thinning of the bones. And how many people actually read the fine print? It does admonish users to take only one a day for 14 days, and not to repeat until 40 days have passed, but it does not even hint why. I think it should say DANGER BONE THINNING in huge red letters.

When my late husband learned about the serious negative side effects and his low bone density, he tried to quit the PPI. However, the rebound effect was very painful, so he upped his weight-bearing exercise, calcium and vitamin D. Yet when he had what for many of us would have been a minor fall, so many bones broke that he was in ICU at Harborview for 10 days before he died. The pain was enormous and with the addition of pain medications, intubation, dialysis, and feeding tube, his condition consistently worsened.

While this is by no means a scientific treatise, I just want more people to know the risks of PPIs. Perhaps you or someone you love can avoid a painful and premature death. But you may also need to take a PPI for certain forms of cancer and other diseases. There are always tradeoffs for taking or not taking drugs.


Published by jeannettefranks

Jeannette Franks, PhD, is a passionate gerontologist and for over 20 years has taught ethics, grief and loss, and courses on geriatrics and gerontology for the University of Washington. Franks' most recent book is, To Move or To Stay Put: A Guide for Your Last Decades. Look for it now on the University Bookstore website It is also available at Eagle Harbor Books on Bainbridge. Franks previously published a definitive guide to independent and assisted living titled Washington Retirement Options, and often speaks on retirement options, disability issues, end-of-life issues and is an advocate for accessibility. She has a goal of making Bainbridge an elder-friendly community and is available to groups and families to discuss these issues. She served for nine years on the Kitsap County Advisory Council on Aging and Long-term Care. She also has the privilege of working in a small way for the past 15 years with the Suquamish tribal elders.

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