According to Wise, people given the drug took a larger-than-standard dose. In most people, he said, a 40-mg dose would suppress nearly all acid production in the stomach.
There was no statistically significant difference between those who took Nexium and the placebo group with respect to asthma control, lung function, GERD symptoms, night awakenings and quality of life, the study found. The rate of asthma events was 2.3 per person-year for the placebo group and 2.5 events per person-year for the treatment group.
"Our study showed this is not an effective practice," Wise said. "These drugs are effective for treating heartburn, and if you have asthma and heartburn, then these drugs may well be used for those symptoms."
Wise said the researchers were not advocating that anyone stop taking their medications, but that they should talk with their physicians. "People need to follow their doctor's advice and take their asthma medications on a regular basis," he said.
Blair Hains, a spokesman for AstraZeneca, which makes Nexium, said that the drug is not indicated for use in asthma and asymptomatic GERD. "The vast use is around treatment of GERD and heartburn," he said.
"For those who have asthma and have GERD, we want to make sure they continue to take their medications as directed," Hains said. "If you have questions or concerns because you're taking Nexium or another proton pump inhibitor, talk to your doctor."
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