Overuse Of The #1 Prescription Drug

What’s the top-selling brand-name prescription drug in America? Nexium, “the purple pill.” We spend six billion dollars a year on it. But Consumer Reports says Nexium, and drugs like it, are overused.

The commercial says, “For over a decade, millions have raised their hand for the proven relief of the purple pill.”

These ads have helped make Nexium the biggest-selling prescription drug today.

It’s one of many proton pump inhibitors, or P-P-I’s, and it’s often prescribed for heartburn to keep your stomach from producing too much acid.

Lisa Gill of Consumer Reports says, “But unless you have gastroesphogeal reflux disease, and that’s really when you have heartburn a couple times a week for several months on end, you actually may not need such a strong drug.”

Nexium and other P-P-I’s have drawbacks. They don’t start working immediately. You must take them daily. And they’ve been linked to side effects, including pneumonia and bone fractures.

For occasional heartburn, choose an over-the-counter antacid like Tums or Rolaids.

Gill says, “Or you might want to try a different kind of drug called an H2 blocker. These are drugs like Pepcid AC or Zantac. They generally cause fewer side effects and are less expensive than a

If you’re going to eat something you know will irritate your stomach, you should take an H-2 blocker ahead of time.

And if you and your doctor do decide a P-P-I is really your best option, you should know there are alternatives that are much cheaper than Nexium.

Gill says, “Our analysis shows that these medications are equally effective, equally safe, and you can shop by price.”

Nexium averages 240 dollars a month. But over-the-counter
P-P-I’s omeprazole and lansoprazole average just 17 dollars a month.

Some people mistake pain from gallstones or heart disease for heartburn. So Consumer Reports cautions, before starting any heartburn drug, see a doctor to rule out other health issues.

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