How Do Proton Pump Inhibitors Work

Proton Pump Inhibitors or PPIs as they are commonly called, is the name given to a group of pharmaceutical drugs that have been developed to provide a long lasting and very noticeable reduction in the amount of gastric acid that the body produces.  They have all but replaced another group of drugs called H2- receptor antagonists which were designed to have the same effect on gastric acid production, but which achieved their results by different means and were less effective.   PPIs are big business for the Pharmaceutical Industry as they are one of the most widely sold drugs in the world.

How do they work

The drugs work by blocking the body’s proton pump in the stomach, the hydrogen/potassium  adenosine triphosphatase enzyme system as it is this enzyme which is responsible for producing the high levels of acidity in the stomach.  PPIs are highly effective and can cut the production of gastric acid secretion by up to 99%.

Why are they used

The reduction of gastric acid is very useful in allowing time for ulcers to heal and in reducing the pain of indigestion and heartburn.  They are often prescribed to treat GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease, Laryngopharyngeal reflux, Dyspepsia, Peptic Ulcer Disease, Barrett’s Esophagus, Gastrinomas, Zollinger-Ellison syndrome and to prevent stress induced gastritis.

What are the Commonly Prescribed PPIs

  • Dexlansoprazole – Brand name Dexilant (formerly Kapidex)
  • Esomeprazole – Brand names include Esotrex and Nexium
  • Lansoprazole – Brand names include Inhibitol, Levant, Lupizole and Prevacid
  • Omeprazole – Brand names include Losec, Omepral, Omez, Prilosec and Zegerid
  • Pantoprazole – Brand names include API, Controloc, Pantoloc and Pantozol
  • Rabeprazole – Brand names include AcipHex, Pariet and Rabeloc

In recent years many of the PPIs have become available in “Over the Counter” OTC formulas that can be brought without prescription.

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