Nexium, or esomeprasole, is a medication that falls into a class of drugs called proton pump inhibitors. Proton pumps line an area of the stomach where hydrochloric acid needed for digestion is produced and then pumped out. People who are prescribed proton pump inhibitors generally have pumps that produce too much acid and so they are prescribed medications to reduce the amount.
People who are considering the drug due to experiencing heartburn are cautioned that they should check with their physician if they are experiencing heartburn. Heartburn is often an early warning sign of an impending heart attack, as a heart attack can mimic it.
Conditions for Which Prescribed
People who have chronic heartburn may have their doctor prescribe this medication to them. They do need to understand, however, that the drug will not provide immediate relief to the heartburn, but if taken as prescribed, will help reduce the production of acid and symptoms over time. The medication is commonly prescribed for gastroesophogeal reflux disease, or GERD, in which the overactive production repeatedly forces acid into the esophagus, leading to scarring and injury. The medication can help the healing process.
People who have peptic ulcers located in their stomach or duodenum are also commonly prescribed this medication, as are people who have a diagnosis of Zollinger-Ellison syndrome. Zollinger-Ellison syndrome is a relatively rare condition in which the cause of the additional acid is due to having too much of the hormone gastrin, which in turn causes an overstimulation of the stomach.
Companies that Sell It
AstraZeneca holds the patent on the name-brand medication, although there is currently an ongoing fight regarding making the drug more widely available to Americans in a generic form. Although the pharmaceutical company struck a deal in 2008 with an Indian drug manufacturer called Ranbaxy to do just that, the scheduled release in May did not occur.
The problem with Ranbaxy is that the company has previously been under suspicion for not correctly labeling their drugs. The FDA currently bans sales of their products in the United States as a result. There is also a mandatory 180-day waiting period due to a congressional act when a new generic will be released to the public.
Recently, the Attorney General of Connecticut wrote a letter to the Federal Drug Administration demanding that either the 180-day waiting period be lifted or that competitors be allowed to go ahead with providing generic alternatives to the name brand at a greatly reduced cost. It is likely that if AstraZeneca does lose its patent for the medication, the public should expect an over the counter version of the medication in the future. The medication is not yet available in a generic form in the U.S., however. It is available by prescription only and sold at pharmacies nationwide.
Known Potential Side Effects
The most common side effects reported by people include headaches, diarrhea, vomiting, rashes, dry mouth, constipation, dizziness and nausea. Less commonly, people who take the medication for long periods of time or at high doses may have an increased risk of bone fractures, especially if they are age 50 or older.
Sometimes, people may experience more serious symptoms when taking a medication. If a person has severe liver or kidney disease, they should check with a doctor before taking Nexium. More serious side effects have also been shown to exist in people who have low levels of magnesium in their blood.
Some prescribed medications rely on acid production to aid absorption. For that reason, people who take certain medications for other conditions that need acid to help absorb them may have an interaction. Medications with this issue include Lanoxin (digoxin), ampicillin (Omnepen or Polycillin), Nizoral (ketoconazole) and preparations of iron. Some antiviral medications are also contraindicated, including Viracept (nelfinavir, Invirase(saquinavir) and Reyataz (atazanavir). Plavix (clopidogrel) and Pletal (cilostazol) also have know interactions, as does Valium (diazepam).
Potential Interactions with Alcohol
Nexium does not have any known interactions with food or beverages including alcohol. Alcohol can cause increased stomach acid production and reflux, however, so people who are taking the medication should understand that if they choose to have a drink, they may experience increased acid reflux and heartburn afterwards. People who have additional questions regarding their ability to drink alcohol while taking this drug should consult with their physician or pharmacist.
In summary, this medication is a highly effective treatment of symptoms that cause too much production of stomach acid, including acid reflux and other problems. People who suffer from these problems may wish to ask their doctor about the possibility of them obtaining a prescription in order to get some relief.