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Nexium, Prevacid and Prilosec Caused Kidney Injuries, Lawsuit Claims

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A product liability lawsuit filed over the side effects of Nexium, Prilosec and Prevacid indicates that the manufacturers of the popular acid reflux drugs failed to warn consumers and the medical community that users may face an increased risk of experiencing a host of serious kidney injuries. 

The complaint (PDF) was filed late last month by A’Lydia M. Gibbs, in the Superior Court of Delaware, naming AstraZeneca, Procter & Gamble, and Takeda Pharmaceuticals as defendants.

Although the drug makers knew or should have known about the kidney risks with Nexium, Prilosec and Prevacid, Gibbs indicates that the drug makers withheld information about studies that suggest users may be more likely to develop an acute kidney injury, acute interstitial nephritis, chronic kidney disease or end-stage renal failure.

Gibbs used the popular medications for an extended period of time in 2015, maintaining that she subsequently suffered a number of kidney problems that have left her permanently and severely injured.

The drugs are some of the most widely used brand-name medications in the U.S., and are part of a larger class of acid reflux drugs known as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), which also includes Protonix, Dexilant and others.

The case joins dozens of other Nexium lawsuits, Prilosec lawsuits, Protonix lawsuits, Prevacid lawsuits and Dexilant lawsuits brought by individuals nationwide in recent months, each involving similar allegations that the drug makers withheld information about the risks associated with long-term use of the medications.

Rather than warning doctors and informing consumers about the side effects, Gibbs indicates that the drug maker makers continued to maintain that the medications do not pose any risk of of kidney problems.

The lawsuit notes that PPIs are one of the most commercially successful medication classes in the U.S., with sales of more than $50 billion from 2008 to 2013.

“In spite of their commercial success and global popularity, up to 70% of PPIs may be used inappropriately for indications or durations that were never tested or approved, “Gibbs notes in her complaint. ” As a result of the defective nature of PPIs, even if used as directed by a physician or healthcare professional, persons who ingested PPIs have been exposed to significant risks stemming from unindicated and/or long-term usage.”

Heartburn Drug Risks

Since Nexium, Prilosec, Prevacid and other PPI drugs have lacked kidney warnings for years, they are widely believed to be safe by most consumers and doctors, and many individuals remain on the medications for years with little attempt to reduce use. However, a number of studies published in recent years have highlighted serious risks associated with use of the medications.

In an independent study published by the medical journal CMAJ Open in April 2015, researchers found that users of PPI medications were 3 times more likely to suffer acute interstitial nephritis, which involves inflammation of the kidney. In addition, the study found that users were 2.5 times more likely to develop acute kidney injury, which involves an abrupt loss of kidney function.

This research was followed by a study published last year in the medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine, which 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.

In April 2016, researchers with the Department of Veterans Affairs found that users of Nexium, Prilosec or other PPIs may be 96% more likely to develop renal failure and 28% more likely to develop chronic kidney disease after five years of use.

In February, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation rejected a request to consolidate all federal proton pump inhibitor kidney damage lawsuits before one judge for pretrial proceedings, saying that the drugs were too dissimilar, and also direct competitors. Therefore, cases filed in U.S. District Courts nationwide are moving forward as individual claims, without coordinated discovery.

In addition, many cases, like those filed by Gibbs, are filed at the state level, and are also moving forward as individual claims.

As heartburn drug injury lawyers continue to review and file cases, it is expected that thousands of similar chronic kidney disease lawsuits and other claims over side effects of PPI medications could be filed in the coming months.

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