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The side effects of Nexium caused a Pennsylvania man to develop chronic kidney disease and acute kidney failure, according to allegations raised in a lawsuit recently filed by his wife.
The complaint (PDF) was brought last week by Sandra J. Hunter, on behalf of herself and her late husband, Larry J. Hunter, in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.
Hunter indicates that AstraZeneca and Pfizer failed to adequately warn users and the medical community that the popular heartburn drug may cause users to suffer severe kidney damage.
Larry Hunter was prescribed Nexium on a number of occasions since March 2006, according to the lawsuit. Following years of using the heartburn medication, Hunter was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease in December 2014 and later diagnosed with acute kidney injury in September 2015.
The lawsuit comes amid growing concern over the risk of kidney damage from Nexium, Prilosec and other widely used proton pump inhibitors (PPI), following a series of studies published in recent years that suggest users may be more likely to develop acute kidney injury, acute interstitial nephritis, chronic kidney disease and kidney failure.
Nexium, Prilosec and other PPI medications are among the most widely used drugs in the United States, generating billions in revenue each year. Since the heartburn drugs are widely believed to be safe, many individuals remain on the medications for years with little attempt to reduce the need for the drugs. However, a growing number of health experts are now raising concerns about the wide-spread over use of the drugs.
“During the period in which Nexium has been sold in the United States, Defendants have had notice of serious adverse health outcomes through case reports, clinical studies and post-market surveillance,” the lawsuit states. “Specifically, Defendants had received numerous case reports of kidney injuries in patients that had ingested Nexium and other PPIs by as early as 2004.”
The complaint raises allegations similar to those present in other Nexium lawsuits, Prilosec lawsuits, Protonix lawsuits, Prevacid lawsuits and Dexilant lawsuits filed in recent months, indicating that the drug makers withheld information from consumers and the medical community.
It was not until December 2014 that the first warnings were added about the risk of kidney damage, indicating that the medications were associated with incidence of acute interstitial nephritis (AIN), which involves a sudden inflammation of the kidneys, which can lead to more severe problems.
This warning update was followed by a study published in the medical journal CMAJ Open in April 2015, which found that users may be 3 times more likely to suffer acute interstitial nephritis, and 2.5 times more likely to develop acute kidney injury, which involves an abrupt loss of kidney function.
Earlier this year, a study published in the medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine also found an increased risk of chronic kidney disease with the heartburn medications, indicating that users of Nexium, Prilosec and other PPI may be 50% more likely when compared to non-users.
These findings were supported by another study published in April 2016, in which researchers with the Department of Veterans Affairs found that users of Nexium, Prilosec or other PPIs may be 96% more likely to develop kidney failure and 28% more likely to develop chronic kidney disease after five years of use.
Hunter presents claims of negligence, negligent misrepresentation, fraudulent misrepresentation, express warranty, implied warranty, fraud, loss of consortium, and survival. She seeks both punitive and compensatory damages.
As heartburn drug injury lawyers continue to review and file cases, it is expected that thousands of cases could be filed in the coming months.