John Smith, PAGB Chief Executive comments:
“The study highlighted the potential increased risk of a stroke when PPIs were used at the highest dosage. The authors acknowledged that PPIs used at the lowest dosage had a slight or no increased stroke risk. PPIs available over-the-counter (OTC) are only intended to be used for a short-term period and are not recommended for continuous use. People are advised to consult a doctor if reflux symptoms don’t improve after 14 days.
“The authors of the study have outlined several limitations which need to be considered. This was an observational study which the authors acknowledge cannot establish cause and effect. Furthermore, the study focused mainly on white patients with an average age of 57, who had more pre-existing health conditions, such as irregular heartbeats, than non-PPI users.
“We would advise anyone who is concerned about the use of PPIs to speak to their pharmacist in the first instance. Pharmacists are highly trained healthcare professionals and can provide information and advice on over-the-counter medicines.”
All OTC medicines in the UK are rigorously assessed for safety and efficacy before they are given a licence by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and once on the market, their safety is monitored in light of any emerging evidence.