Top 16 Drugs That Cause Kidney Damage: Please Share For Awareness

by DailyHealthPost Editorial

nephrotoxic drugs

drugs cause kidney damageYour kidneys are essentially your blood’s filtration system. This means that any toxins that are in your blood eventually finds their way into your kidneys, where they are later transformed and expelled through urine. All of your blood is filtered by these organs multiple times a day (1).


Both are located on your back, along your spine, and are each about the size of a fist. Kidney disease and failure are so hard to detect, in fact, that it’s possible to lose up to 90% of kidney function without experiencing any symptoms or problems, according to WebMD.

Drug-Induced Kidney Damage

Drugs are one of the most common causes of kidney damage. Over the last 30 years, instances of drug-induced acute kidney injury have been on the rise (2).


According to a 2008 review published in American Family Physician: “Drugs cause approximately 20 percent of community-and hospital-acquired episodes of acute renal failure. Among older adults, the incidence of drug-induced nephrotoxicity may be as high as 66 percent.”

In part, drugs can cause kidney inflammation, which can lead to fibrosis and renal scarring, and thus, kidney failure.

kidney damage


Nephrotoxic Drugs That Cause Kidney Damage

Before taking any of these drugs, be aware that they are known to cause severe (and sometimes deadly) kidney damage (3,4,5).

If you already have kidney problems, these drugs can be deadly even in small doses. And so, make sure to only take medication prescribed by your healthcare provider and respect the recommended dose.

1. Antibiotics

Including: ciprofloxacin, methicillin, vancomycin, aminoglycosides, cephalosporins, amphotericin B, bacitracin, and sulfonamides.


2. Analgesics

Including: acetaminophen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID), aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, and other prescription and non-prescription painkillers.

3. COX-2 Inhibitors

Including: celecoxib (Celebrex), rofecoxib (Vioxx), and valdecoxib (Bextra).

4. Heartburn Drugs

Including: proton pump inhibitors like omeprazole (Prilosec), lansoprazole (Prevacid), pantoprazole (Protonix), rabeprazole (Rabecid, Aciphex), and esomeprazole (Nexium, Esotrex).


5. Antiviral Drugs

Including: acyclovir (Zovirax), used to treat herpes infection, and indinavir, ritonavir, and tenofovir, all used to treat HIV.

6. High Blood Pressure Drugs

Including: captopril (Capoten), lisinopril, ramipril, and angiotensin receptor blockers like candesartan and valsartan.

7. Rheumatoid Arthritis Drugs

Including: infliximab (Remicade), chloroquine, and hydroxychloroquine, which are used to treat malaria and systemic lupus erythematosus as well as rheumatoid arthritis.


8. Bipolar Disorder Drugs

Including: Lithium

9. Anticonvulsants

Including: phenytoin (Dilantin) and trimethadione (Tridione).

10. Chemotherapy Drugs

Including: interferons, pamidronate, cisplatin, carboplatin, cyclosporine, tacrolimus, quinine, mitomycin C, bevacizumab, cisplatin, carboplatin, and methotrexate.


11. Osteoporosis And Hypercalcemia Medication

Including: Zoledronic acid including Reclast, and Zometa.

12. Prescription And Over-The-Counter Laxatives

Including: sodium phosphate (OSP) products like Visicol and OsmoPrep.

13. Hyperthyroidism Drugs

Including: propylthiouracil


14. Contrast Dye

Including: dyes used in MRIs and CT-scans.

15. Ulcer Medicines

Including: cimetidine and more.

16. Illegal Drugs

Including: Cocaine, heroin, and amphetamines.


Bonus: Alcohol

Alcoholics have a high risk of developing both kidney and liver failure, so enjoy a drink in moderation or forgo it completely. Chemicals including insecticides, herbicides, and ethylene glycol can also cause acute kidney injury.

Other Risks

Acute kidney failure can lead to unpleasant problems including (6):

  • Shortness of breath, caused by fluid buildup in the lungs
  • Chest pain, caused by inflammation of the lining that covers your heart (pericardium).
  • Muscle weakness, caused by electrolyte imbalance
  • Permanent kidney damage, requiring either permanent dialysis or kidney transplant for survival.
  • Death

Other organs are also affected by prescriptions, including your liver, which detoxifies chemicals and metabolizes drugs (7).