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Acid-Suppressing Drugs Raise the Risk of Repeat C Diff Infection

Hospital patients on a PPI are at increased risk of dying from a recurrent C diff infection.

Clostridium difficile, or C diff for short, is a hard-to-treat intestinal infection that can cause severe diarrhea. An infection may greatly extend a hospital stay, and sometimes the diarrhea associated with C diff contributes to a patient’s death. Those who recover from an initial C diff infection are at risk for a recurrence. To hear how terrifying repeated C diff infections can be, you may want to listen to our interview with Catherine Duff, founder of the Fecal Transplant Foundation.

Canadian researchers conducted a review of the records of people who developed a C diff infection in two university hospitals in Quebec. They found that people taking acid-suppressing drugs such as pantoprazole were more likely to experience a recurrent infection.

Of those on such a proton-pump inhibitor (PPI), 29 percent suffered such an event, compared to 20 percent of those who were not taking a PPI. Those on a PPI were 50 percent more likely to die from their infection.

The authors urge doctors to consider discontinuing PPI prescriptions in patients who come down with C diff infections. This is especially relevant for those who are taking the drug for an unproven use rather than for an ulcer or diagnosed gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD).

[JAMA Internal Medicine, online March 2, 2015]


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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.”.
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