Although naproxen and esomeprazole are very different drugs with entirely different pharmacological actions in the body, considerable research has been conducted on the activity of the two when combined. Naproxen, sold over-the-counter under the brand name Aleve®, is a member of a class of drugs known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID). The drugs are used for a wide variety of applications, but naproxen is most commonly employed as a long-lasting treatment for pain and inflammation. Esomeprazole, on the other hand, is classed as a proton pump inhibitor and is predominantly used in treating gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, Zollinger-Ellison syndrom, dyspepsia, and peptic ulcer disease. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a new medication consisting of a combination of naproxen and esomeprazole for the treatment of arthritis pain in individuals at increased risk for the development of peptic ulcers, a known side-effect of NSAID drugs.
Like any drugs, the risks of naproxen and esomeprazole should be weighed carefully against their potential benefits before incorporating them into a treatment regimen. While naproxen can be used for conditions like fever or menstrual pain, it is most commonly used to alleviate the stiffness, inflammation and pain of conditions like osteo- and rheumatoid arthritis, tendinitis, bursitis, gout, Bekhterev's disease and kidney stones. Unlike NSAID drugs such as aspirin, however, the daily use of naproxen progressively increases the risk of heart attack or stroke as well as less serious side-effects such as sunburn. Intestinal bleeding or perforation, which is a potentially fatal side-effect found more frequently among patients that are elderly or consume alcohol, may occur at any time while using the medication. In an effort to reduce the potential risk of peptic ulcers or intestinal bleeding, naproxen and esomeprazole are sometimes prescribed alongside each other even in patients with no preexisting gastrointestinal disorders.
The efficacy of esomeprazole in the treatment of the diseases for which it was developed is believed to be due to its inhibition of hydrochloric acid secretion by gastric parietal cells. This decrease in stomach acidity may also be the mechanism by which the drug reduces the incidence of naproxen's gastrointestinal side-effects, as use for which it has now received approval by the FDA. Esomeprazole can improve the safety profile of naproxen among the population most likely to both use the medication and suffer from serious side-effects, but it can also contribute an entirely new set of risks for the elderly. Due to its acceleration of bone loss, patients suffering from osteoporosis or who are have an increased risk of developing the condition are often advised by their physician to avoid proton pump inhibiting drugs like esomeprazole. Since esomeprazole may also interact with other medications, including diuretics, blood-thinners, and some medicines for congestive heart failure, patients considering using the drug should talk with a physician first.