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July 31, 2013

HQC part of new study on proton pump inhibitors

Saskatchewan’s Health Quality Council was part of a new study on proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) published recently in the journal Gut. The research, by the Canadian Network for Observational Drug Effect Studies (CNODES), found that this class of drugs does not increase a patient’s risk of hospitalization for community-acquired pneumonia.

Previous observational studies had shown that PPIs, a type of gastric acid suppressing medication, are associated with increased risk of pneumonia. However, this earlier research did not account for the fact that the condition (gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD – a kind of severe “heartburn”) which PPIs are used to treat may itself cause pneumonia or that the early signs of pneumonia may be confused with GERD. Thus, while people taking PPIs may end up with pneumonia somewhat more often than expected by chance alone, the cause of the pneumonia wouldn’t be the PPI, but rather the underlying condition it was used to treat.

This new study by the CNODES group was specifically designed to address this methodological weakness in previous research. In summarizing the clinical significance of their study the research team wrote: “Our results suggest that concerns regarding an association between PPIs and pneumonia should not influence prescribing of gastric acid-suppressing medications.” The Saskatchewan arm of CNODES is led by Dr. Gary Teare, HQC’s director of measurement and analysis, who is also an adjunct professor with the College of Medicine and the School of Public Health at the University of Saskatchewan.

Gut published the paper online on July 15.  And here’s the link to the official news release issued by CNODES.