Video: FDA warns of bone fracture with heartburn drugs

  1. Transcript of: FDA warns of bone fracture with heartburn drugs

    BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: Lot to talk about here on the health news front. Two stories specifically to sort out. One involves a popular class of drugs available over the counter . The other involves something floating around the Internet about sunscreens. And for both Dr. Nancy Snyderman is here for a bit of a reality check . Nancy , this first on sunscreens came to our house in the form of an e-mail.

    Dr. NANCY SNYDERMAN reporting: Right.

    WILLIAMS: Article off the Internet . In effect, it said that one form of sunscreen can actually be worse be for you.

    SNYDERMAN: There was a mouse study 10 years ago that an environmental group has said pay attention because could vitamin A in sunscreens increase the chance of getting skin cancer ?

    WILLIAMS: Actually do more harm.

    SNYDERMAN: And I think the reality is, it's a mouse study. We're talking about human beings. I don't see any evidence or proof that the use of sunscreens causes or promotes skin cancer .

    WILLIAMS: But this a good time of year for the kind of annual sunscreen report to come out. People always need that primer, that reminder that after a certain SPF , isn't it true you're doing no good?

    SNYDERMAN: There are 500 products out there, and not all of them work as well, and there's a lot of hype because there's a big market share. So I think there's some guidelines. First of all, you have to go back to those labels. Look for something that protects for UVA and UVB rays. They cause skin cancer and yes, they cause wrinkles. Anything over an SPF of 50, you're probably wasting your money. Creams vs. sprays, even if you use a spray, you have to rub it in. And then reapply, reapply, reapply. And this is important for people of color . African-Americans and Latinos can also get skin cancer . If you have a suntan, it is, by definition, skin damage. Everybody, if you go out in the sun, put something on.

    WILLIAMS: Now the separate topic we mentioned at the top of the broadcast, a whole class of drugs, very popular, very well known. They were once prescription. They're now available over the counter .

    SNYDERMAN: For GERD , this gastroesophageal reflux disease . These are called proton pump inhibitors. You've seen ads everywhere. The FDA today as sought -- sounded a big caution primarily because in high dose prescription strength, over the age of 50, people taking these, there have been an increased risk of fractures, primarily wrist, bone and back. All they have said -- the FDA is saying, for anyone who takes these for longer than 14 days, at least check in with your doctor. Again, it's primarily for people who have taken them for over a year, people who are over the age of 50, and people who are on the high dose. But the FDA is broadening its precautions even for the over-the-counter just to say check in, don't take these things without checking with your physician.

    WILLIAMS: And what are some of these brand names?

    SNYDERMAN: Prilosec is sort of the top of people's list. And, you know, I don't want to sort of...

    WILLIAMS: Use a broad brush...

    SNYDERMAN: ...put a whole bunch of brand names in a...

    WILLIAMS: Right.

    SNYDERMAN: ...in a dangerous spot. But you're going to know them. Anything for acid reflux over gastroesophageal reflex disease. Go to our Web site . We're going to have a list. But nonetheless, over-the-counters and prescription drugs , doctors are getting this advice tonight from the FDA to at least sit down and have the conversation.

    WILLIAMS: All right. Our chief medical editor, Dr. Nancy Snyderman , as always, thanks.

updated 5/25/2010 7:52:29 PM ET 2010-05-25T23:52:29

Federal health regulators are warning doctors and patients that heartburn drugs like Nexium and Prilosec may cause bone fractures when used for more than a year.

The Food and Drug Administration said several studies showed increased risk of hip, wrist and spine fractures in patients using drugs that block stomach acid.

The drugs are known as proton pump inhibitors and include both prescription drugs like Nexium and over-the-counter medicines like Prilosec.

The FDA says all drugs in the class will carry new warning labels about the potential risk.

"Health care professionals should consider whether a lower dose or shorter duration of therapy would adequately treat the patient's condition," said FDA's Joyce Korvick in a statement.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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