Acid Blockers Make COVID-19 More Deadly

June 11, 2020

The FDA has ignored the dangers long enough. Action Alert!

ANH-USA has submitted a Citizens Petition to the FDA concerning the increased risk of pneumonia that is associated with proton pump inhibitor (PPI) medications for acid reflux. This effect has been documented for a number of years, yet the agency has so far refused to update these drugs’ label warning to reflect this danger. This side effect is especially concerning given the current pandemic, which attacks the respiratory system. It is time to force the FDA’s hand.

These widely prescribed drugs (Prilosec and Prevacid are popular brand names) block the production of stomach acid and are used to treat heartburn and GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). PPIs have been linked with increased risk of pneumonia  which is of particular concern with COVID-19 and the respiratory damage that characterizes advanced cases.

The mechanism by which PPIs cause pneumonia is not fully understood, but one theory is that they compromise the stomach’s “acid mantle” against gastric colonization of bacteria.  Normally, gastric pH is around 2, which effectively limits bacterial colonization from ingested microbes; PPIs increase this pH to above 4 for approximately 24 hours, compromising this natural defense mechanism. PPIs may also lead to delayed gastric emptying, increased gastric contents, larger bacterial loads, and increased pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter, causing reflux that brings bacteria back up into the respiratory tract and thus increases the likelihood of infection. Another theory is that PPIs reduce the acidity of the upper digestive tract which results in increased bacterial colonization of the larynx, esophagus, and lungs.

PPIs also impact the gastrointestinal microbiota, which could be linked to reducing immunity and hence increasing pneumonia risk. This is key. We’re currently living through a viral pandemic that attacks the respiratory system. Not only do PPIs weaken our immune response overall, they make us more susceptible to a respiratory infection that could put us more at risk for COVID-19 complications.

Important research has found that PPIs shut off acid pumps, not just in the stomach, but in every other cell of the body. This interferes with the way cells make energy and detoxify. It also results in “systematically compromised immunity.” Referring to his research on PPIs and their effect on the lysosomes, one doctor summed it up like this: “I think we now have a smoking gun,” referring to the mechanism by which PPIs cause the wide range of negative health effects that have been documented.

There are an estimated 4.9 million cases of pneumonia in the US per year, requiring more than 250,000 hospitalizations and resulting in 50,000 deaths. The cost of treating pneumonia in the US is estimated to be $13.4 billion. PPIs could be costing us billions of dollars a year in healthcare costs for pneumonia alone, not to mention the other health hazards they cause.

The COVID-19 pandemic starkly underlines the significance of these dangers. The millions of users of PPIs must be warned that using these drugs compromises immunity and increases risk of pneumonia—pertinent information, to say the least, during a viral pandemic that attacks the respiratory system.

Public health experts say between 60 and 70% of people who take these drugs don’t need them. Acid blockers like PPIs do not address the root cause of stomach trouble, which is often too little stomach acid, not too much. This means that in many cases, taking acid blockers simply makes your stomach problems even worse.

Then there are the other side effects, which we’ve written about extensively. Acid blockers:

  • Increase the risk of a baby developing asthma if taken by pregnant mothers.
  • Increase the risk of bacterial infection and bone fracture.
  • Cause both acute and chronic kidney disease.
  • Increase the risk of dementia by as much as 52%.
  • Raise the risk of heart attack by as much as 20%.

The FDA already has issued a number of warnings regarding PPIs, including the increased risk of bone fracture, hypomagnesemia (low serum magnesium levels), and Clostridium difficile associated diarrhea. It’s time to add pneumonia to this list, especially given the increased danger as we weather this pandemic.

Action Alert! Write to the FDA, with a copy to Congress, telling the agency to add a warning that PPIs increase risk of pneumonia. Please send your message immediately.

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50 responses to “Acid Blockers Make COVID-19 More Deadly”

  1. Brett Travis says:

    I take PPIs and I take an immunosuppressive drug for Crohn’s. So now that you’ve got me frightened about this, what now?

    • Mary Ryan says:

      Speak to a nutritionist, not a dietician, about monitoring your diet for irritant foods Get educated about herbs and and nutrition to support a healthy digestive tract. Ask at your local heath food store for someone they know who could help you. Double check any supplement information you get and start the process of getting better. Remember we are all biochemically different and you need to find what works for you. I did a quick search and found a book “Gut Guide 101: Three Weeks to Better Digestion and Increased Energy” by Mari J Hahn that seemed to have a good basic program to follow.

  2. Donna K. Bishop says:

    The FDA already has issued a number of warnings regarding PPIs, including the increased risk of bone fracture, hypomagnesemia (low serum magnesium levels), and Clostridium difficile associated diarrhea. It’s time to add pneumonia to this list, especially given the increased danger as we weather this pandemic.

  3. John Neal Spangler says:

    Stop murdering Americans FDA

  4. Max Riben says:

    Acid blockers make Covid-19 AND ALL FLU VIRUSES more deadly.

  5. Pejers says:

    FYI, there is no pandemic, nor was there one. It was a fraud perpetrated on the populace of the world for diabolic agendas. Nor was it very infectious. The numbers given by the “authorities” are grossly overinflated with other illnesses in order to push the fear so the population would submit to the upcoming demands (which we did all to agreeably with the lockdowns and financial losses). Nevertheless, bringing attention to the negative affects of the acid blockers is the proper thing to do.

    • John says:

      I am not sure where you live, what news you watch or what you read, but the pandemic is quite real. Visit the ER in a major city, especially in Texas, Florida and other states where they have downplayed the pandemic with the result being record rises in the daily number of cases. I have known people who died of it and others who had it but survived. Your, and others like you, denial of the problem is why the US now has over two million cases and over 100,000 deaths, a 5% death rate. It is also a slap in the face to those grieving families who have lost loved ones. If you want to walk around without a mask and not wash your hands often, it is your prerogative. Natural selection will take care of many like you.

      • Elizabeth S Galarza says:

        We should request the health authorities to report all deaths from 2019 by cause and to report in 2020 all deaths from all illnesses, including the number of deaths for medical malpractice, then we could compare and see how deadly or not is the covid 19 virus.

  6. Joyce Sherman says:

    It is time to warn the public about the increased risk of pneumonia particularly in light of the Covid19 pandemic.

  7. PAMELA J. SMITH says:

    Ppis increase pneumonia!! Tell the public. You’re ruining lives!

  8. Shlomo Orr says:

    Any peer-reviewed references? known studies? (e.g.,

    • ANH-USA says:

      Hi Shlomo,

      All of our resources are linked in the article, including peer-reviewed studies. There aren’t any peer-reviewed studies directly on PPIs and COVID 19, but if PPIs weaken the immune system, then it would be a concern.

  9. Candace Lamoree says:

    Please add a warning that PPIs increase risk of pneumonia. Millions of lives may be at stake, and in this time of COVID-19, anyone taking that medicine needs to be alerted to the dangerous side effects. Thank you.

  10. Carlos Soto says:

    Does this include Nexium?

  11. Karl Hamann says:

    Acid blockers make Covid-19 more deadly!

  12. David Moore says:

    Are you all crazy!?!? I agree that PPIs are bad for you, but if you truly have GERD, then you k ow not having it is not an option. Think before you act! What would you replace it with? I’m surrounded by morons!

    • Vincent Elardo says:

      I went to a chiropractor who gave me probiotic supplement for 90 days and never took Prilosec ever again.
      You can cure acid reflux . Find the right doctor

    • Victoria Muscar says:

      I agree. I had my gall bladder out and ever since I have to take Prevacid and Carafate. If I don’t I am miserable.

      • Dr A. H. Feldman, N.D., DaHom says:

        did the doctors bother to explain how removal of the gall bladder will affect your liver? did they explain that you need to take herbs and nutritional supplements to support your liver and you need to use digestive enzymes and probiotics to help your digestion work properly…

        doctors today do not see the body as a whole interdependent entity but rather they try to deal with pieces at a time as if they were all disconnected.

        No, you do not need to take those drugs. remember please that ALL pharmaceuticals have undesirable side effects, immediate and long term. and they all interact with each other and with the foods we eat, the liquids we consume. the use of such medications makes sense for a short term to control symptoms while you research (with the help of a knowledgeable naturopathic doctor, nutritionist, etc) what you can do to fix the underlying problems.

        removal of the gall bladder does not mean that you must suffer whatever symptoms you are experiencing unless you take other drugs. the only purpose of the gall bladder is to hold the bile produced by the liver. when the gall bladder is gone, the liver is required to make the digestive juices on demand. which means that either it must stop some of the myriad of other things it is doing at that very moment (the liver does more jobs than all of our other organs combined) or the food remains in the stomach / gut and is fermenting. support your liver and help your digestion and those symptoms will gradually disappear and never come back unless your circumstances change. taking those drugs will ensure that the circumstances will indeed change – for the worst.

    • Dr A H Feldman, ND, DaHom says:

      And do you really have GERD? due to too much stomach acid?
      the symptoms are exactly the same for people who have too little stomach acid as for those who have too much.

      did you doctor test you to determine which you have before prescribing PPIs? probably not. you can test yourself easily. but if you have been taking these drugs for very long you have already interfered drastically with the body processes that control acid creation and use. still, the next time you eat something that might normally bother you, take a teaspoon of lemon juice or unfiltered applie cider vinegar right after. within ten minutes you will feel worse or better. if you feel worse (a temporary conditon) then you have too much acid. if you feel better or have no reactions at all, you have too little stomach acid.

      either way, if you research you will find the herbs and supplements that will help you avoid GERD-related issues in the first place. if you continue to take PPIs your food will continue to not digest properly, your nutritional deficiencies will show themselves and get ever worse and your health will go down the drain.

  13. Karhy Lopez says:

    My 14 year old has leukemia and is currently perscribed prilosec. I had them remove zantac because it causes cancer and they had perscribed it. Now I will let them know whem we see them a out this article. Thank you

  14. Patsy Williams says:

    This is disturbing news, especially in our current situation.

  15. Please post warning that PPIs increase risk of pneumonia. Thank you.

  16. Rico says:

    Okay. Important and potentially life saving information but just as important, and missing from this article, is what are the alternatives? Many people that are on PPI’s suffer from serious and painful complications that these drugs do help with. Even more, it’s very hard to stop taking these drugs because of the transition period, the weaning off time. Also, you can’t just stop taking these drugs, “cold turkey”, or the chances are very high you’ll have a serious adverse reaction.

    It’s great information but you need to take this further and offer suggestions about what to do in place of these drugs…

    • ANH-USA says:

      Hi Rico,

      We don’t recommend anyone stop their medication without consulting their doctor. We’re not giving medical advice.

      That being said, some alternatives are discussed below.

      Acid blockers do not address the root cause of stomach trouble, which is often too little stomach acid, not too much. This means that in many cases, taking acid blockers simply makes your stomach problems even worse. Public health experts say between 60 and 70% of people who take these drugs don’t need them.

      There are also natural ways to address acid reflux and too much stomach acid. Lifestyle changes can help, which include avoiding certain foods such as coffee, chocolate, alcohol, spicy foods, and carbonated beverages; quitting smoking; losing weight; avoiding eating close to bedtime; elevating the head while sleeping; and limiting use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Nutrients that can be helpful include calcium, magnesium, calcium, melatonin, and raft-forming agents—combinations of a gel-forming fiber (e.g., alginate or pectin) with an antacid buffer (commonly sodium or potassium bicarbonate).
      We suggest consulting with an integrative doctor before deciding to use these ineffective and dangerous drugs.
      Don’t expect a “conventional” doctor to tell you that stomach pain can be managed using natural medicine, such as supplementing with hydrochloric acid to restore stomach acid—acid-blocking proton pump inhibitor drugs are obscenely profitable and bring in billions for Big Pharma. Lifestyle changes can also help reduce stomach pain and acid reflux, such as losing weight and eating a healthy diet.

  17. Dawn Larsen says:

    Please include the increased pneumonia risk in the warnings for these drugs. It could save someone’s life. Thank you.

  18. Eileen Connor says:

    We’re currently living through a viral pandemic that attacks the respiratory system. Not only do PPIs weaken our immune response overall, they make us more susceptible to a respiratory infection that could put us more at risk for COVID-19 complications.This effect has been documented for a number of years, yet the agency has so far refused to update these drugs’ label warning to reflect this danger.

    I demand that you add a warning that PPI’s increase the risk of pneumonia to these medication NOW!

    I am a licensed acupuncturist and board certified herbalist in the state of Minnesota.

  19. Marcy Gordon says:

    Acid blockers make COVID-19 more deadly — the FDA must ban these dangerous drugs.

  20. Please add pneumonia to the list of warnings regarding use of proton pump inhibitors such as Prilosec. This is especially important at this time due to the frequent occurrence of pneumonia for those contracting Covid 19.

  21. Linda Miller says:

    I knew about most of the adverse reactions associated with proton pump inhibitors, but now it could possibly exacerbate the corona virus infection. More reasons to stay away from those acid reducers. Taking home remedies is perhaps the only way to go. I like drinking pickle juice. It seems to quiet my acid reflux. Cheaper too.

  22. Michelle says:

    Im confused because your article states that PPI can make the immune system weaker & increase risk of pneumonia & may make Covid worse. And the 52% increase risk of dementia. I was prescribed Famotidine 20mg once daily. Is it part of these studies of increased risks for dementia & pneumonia? As well as other risks?
    I saw another article this week that stated Famotidine was improving outcomes for Covid patients, im confused.

  23. Doris says:

    If I don’t take Pantoprazole then food won’t pass down the esophagus causing pain and wanting to regurgitate but can’t. So what is one to do? I know the side effects because I have osteoporosis. I ave had the esophagus stretched to no avail.

  24. Silvia Cooper says:

    Inform the patient and let them make the decision!
    Do NOT hide the facts, we are not morons…

  25. Lawrence Collins says:

    That you. I just threw away my Prilosec and Zantac. I stopped using them a couple months ago but still had some in my medicine cabinet but they are gone now. I solved my own stomach problems after going on You Tube about three months ago. I changed my diet and did some water fasting and also did a week of drinking celery juice on a empty stomach every morning. I eat a lot of fermented foods like saurcrout, pickles, olives, etc. I also take a Probiotic 10 supplement. I’m no longer a diabetic, blood pressure is back to normal, lost 46 pounds and falling. I still do intermittent fasting. I am 84 years old.

  26. Tom says:

    Exactly. I had acid reflux on and off for over 10 years and finally ended up in the hospital in 2015. My doctor prescribed Omeprazole and then I was tested for esophagus cancer and that doctor told me I would be on an acid blocker the rest of my life (age 65 at the time). I took the drug for about 3-4 moths and then stopped and did some research into the problem. By changing my eating habits, I have reduced the incidence of acid reflux by over 95%. I basically cured or alleviated the problem on my own. No way was I going to be taking a drug the rest of my life. My sister-in-law took PPIs for over 20 years and died last year from brain cancer (age 69). Was there a connection? I will never trust my doctor, Big Pharma or the medical mafia to have my best interests in mind. They are more concerned with managing disease than curing it because that would shut off their lush incomes that come from overcharging for medical services that often do no good.

  27. Rossen Vassilev Jr says:

    Research shows that PPIs increase the risk of pneumonia. They may Make COVID-19 More Deadly!

  28. There is a serious misuse and over prescription of Proton Pump Inhibitors that is negatively impacting many people who take these, often for long periods of time. Without proper stomach acid, any pathogen that is on food, drink or a person’s hands if they touch their mouth is able to pass through untouched. The stomach is the first line of defense for the body. Also, without proper Hcl, the body can’t break down food, especially proteins for proper assimilation, leaving a person malnourished and in a weakened state to resist or overcome serious illness. These drugs should only be prescribed if it has been determined by accurate labs that the person does have high HCl and this is the best treatment. Alternative treatments and further steps should also be taken in lieu of simply these medications. Thank you

  29. Donald Rumph says:

    FDA – Do what you are supposed to do. If proton pump inhibitor medication lead to increased pneumonia, why have we not been told? Why has PDR not reflected this information? Come on, get at it, make the changes in public information that we depend on.

  30. Christa Suggs says:

    It is critical that additional warning of the dangers of increased risk of pneumonia be added to the product label as well as warning of possible compromise of the immune system. Patients and doctors deserve accurate information abou the drugs they are being prescribed and prescribing.

  31. fa la says:

    So who said pepcid ac was a treatment forcovid-19?

  32. Pam Spurr says:

    This is extremely important information for the public to be made aware of. As a nurse and nutrition coach, I am well aware of the significant health risks these medications pose, including pneumonia. Truthful information supports a free society.

  33. Bharat Adarkar says:

    Add a warning that PPIs increase risk of pneumonia.

  34. Pamela Kantarova says:

    Proton pump inhibitor (PPI) medications for acid reflux increase the risk of pneumonia. A warning needs to be added to PPI’s. Acid blockers like PPIs do not address the root cause of stomach trouble, which is often too little stomach acid, not too much. This means that in many cases, taking acid blockers simply makes your stomach problems even worse.
    Not only do PPIs weaken our immune response overall, they make us more susceptible to a respiratory infection that could put us more at risk for COVID-19 complications.

  35. Peter Booth Lee says:

    Just like Ibuprofin for COVID19, there are DANGEROUS!

  36. Barbara A Collins says:

    Thanks for sharing that information, but what are reflux sufferers suppose to do about the painful reflux if the meds aren’t recommended? It would be helpful if you would give options on treating reflux which can be painful and dangerous.

    I certainly would like the medical community to be aware of the issue with PPI’s so the covid-19 doesnt continue to kill more lives.

    • Tina says:

      I was on omeprazole and it worked. Then because of intestinal issues
      the doctor switched me to famodine.

  37. Francine says:

    Stop lying to us. Stop cheating with our lives.

  38. Tina says:

    I was on Omeprazole a PPI. It helped but because of intestinal issues the
    Doctor switched me to famodine. It works.

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