It is the second-best sellingdrug out there and odds are you or someone you know has taken it at one time or another. Last year, sales of "The Purple Pill," or Nexium, topped $6 billion.
But now the company that makes Nexium, AstraZeneca, is being sued because several women say its use caused bone fractures and breaks.
Natalie Stempfer, 49, and Cindy Davidson, 47, shared their stories with KPRC Local 2.
Both have suffered from acid reflux for years and both sought the same treatment.
Stempfer said, "I started taking Nexium in February of 2006."
Davidson said, "I started taking it in '03."
But now Stempfer told Local 2, "I can't do anything the way that I used to."
Davidson said, "I wish I had been warned."
Nexium is widely used for the treatment of acid reflux. Usually taken once a day, it decreases the amount of acid in the stomach, relieving symptoms.
Davidson explained, "I've tried a day or two to go without it and I can't because the reflux will come back."
Last week, Ginny Begin, 58, of Toledo, filed a federal lawsuit in Houston against AstraZeneca, the makers of Nexium, claiming she suffered bone deterioration after using Nexium daily from 2003 to 2011.
Begin told Local 2, "I just stepped down and boom it's breaking."
Begin said she snapped her left leg while walking in 2005 and then two years later, "I was just walking down some stairs and again the same bone just gave out. I went down and broke three other bones besides it."
Her story resonated with viewers like Davidson.
Davidson said, "I just listened to the story and I said, 'You know, that sounds a lot like me.'"
Davidson explained that two years ago, she broke her leg roller skating with her daughter. She said, "When I fell, I just knew I broke it. I could hear the break."
Stempfer still limps and wears a boot after fracturing a bone in the middle of her foot last summer. It happened while she was just walking in the mall.
Stempfer explained, "None of my doctors have ever seen this particular bone fracture."
She said she's since developed Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, a chronic pain condition that causes changes in color, temperature and swelling of her foot. It is incurable.
Stempfer told Local 2, "My foot still swells, still turns red and purple and blue. My toes curl under. It's just been ongoing."
Stempfer and Davidson are joining several other women in a lawsuit against AstraZeneca to be filed in state district court by Houston attorney Jason Gibson, who also represents Begin.
Gibson told Local 2, "We've had an outpouring of other people women in that age group who have been calling (saying) 'This is happening to me too and I'm shocked.'"
In the lawsuit, Gibson claims as early as 2006, studies showed proton pump inhibitor medications like Nexium "interfere with the body's ability to absorb calcium, thus leading to bone loss and leading to an increased number of fractures."
According to the studies, the risk is especially high in women over 50 who take the drug continuously for more than a year. The FDA issued warnings last fall and again last month, recommending PPIs are "only intended for a 14-day course of treatment up to three times a year."
Gibson said, "This has been a complete failure from day one on behalf of AstraZeneca. They marketed their product to make $6 billion a year, but they failed to this day to put an adequate warning on there about severe bone fractures. So they have failed to step up and that's why it's important to get the word out there, not just for doctors, but ultimately, consumers as well."
Still hobbling around, Stempfer is frustrated.
She said, "I'm not able to travel unaccompanied, not able to swim. We have a beautiful pool in our back yard and I'm not able to swim. Even things like I'm not able to take our dog for a walk. It's been life-altering for us. It honestly has and that makes me angry." Stempfer immediately stopped taking Nexium and is now trying probiotics.
For Davidson, it's a Catch-22.
She says her acid reflux is so severe, the Nexium has been the only thing that's worked, so she can't stop even if she wants to, making her wonder about the toll it has taken on her body.
She explained, "Had I known that (by taking) Nexium that there was a possibility of fracture to my bones, I'm certain I wouldn't have taken it. But, I didn't get that choice because I didn't get that warning."
Blair Hains, director of AstraZeneca Brand Corporate Affairs sent Local 2 a statement reading, "AstraZeneca is reviewing the complaint and will not comment at this time on the specific legal action. AstraZeneca is confident in the positive benefit-risk profile of Nexium as demonstrated by extensive clinical trial data and safety surveillance data. Patients who have concerns about any medication should speak to their physician, who is the most appropriate person to discuss their individual medical needs."