For drug makers, it must have been a "you got your peanut butter in my chocolate" moment -- but instead of "two great tastes that taste great together," you're about to get two bad meds that are even worse together.
The "peanut butter" in this case is the daily aspirin millions of heart patients are told to take -- and taken by millions of others in the mistaken belief it can prevent those heart problems from happening in the first place.
The "chocolate" is omeprazole, aka Prilosec -- part of a badly overused class of heartburn meds called proton pump inhibitors.
Now, I don't have a problem with someone eating a little fresh-ground peanut butter, or even an occasional snack of dark chocolate.
But I have a big problem with people taking daily aspirin or proton pump inhibitors on a long-term basis -- because both of these drugs come with huge health risks and minimal... to no... benefits.
Daily aspirin use isn't nearly as beneficial as years and years of relentless marketing would have you believe. What's more, it comes with a host of serious side effects such as bleeding problems, including ulcers, and even bleeding in the brain.
One of the milder but more immediate side effects, however, is heartburn -- and that's why the new peanut butter cup of pills mixes 325 mg of aspirin with the PPI omeprazole.
It's supposed to prevent that heartburn and make it easier for people to take the daily aspirin. And to that extent, you could say it "works" -- because PPIs are great at hiding the symptoms of heartburn and other stomach acid problems.
But PPIs also bring stomach acid to dangerously low levels.
In fact, the levels are so low that when you stop taking the drugs, the stomach tries to overcompensate and produces more acid than ever. Most people think it's their acid problem coming back with a vengeance.
In reality, this "acid rebound," as it's called, is caused by the drug itself -- and a reason many people can't stop taking a PPI once they start.
PPIs can also block the absorption of key nutrients, leaving you seriously deficient in calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, vitamin C, and other essentials and putting you at risk for everything from bone breaks to death.
Pain, heartburn, and even cardiovascular health all have better and more natural answers. Work with your doctor to find them.