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According to allegations raised in a product liability lawsuit recently filed against AstraZeneca and Procter & Gamble, the combined side effects of Nexium, Prilosec and Prilosec OTC used over a period of several years caused an Illinois woman to suffer chronic kidney disease and acute renal failure.
The complaint (PDF) was filed by Irma Coleman in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois on February 8, indicating that the drug makers failed to adequately warn consumers and the medical community about the risk that the popular heartburn medications may injure the kidneys.
Coleman states that she used Prilosec and Prilosec OTC from January 2009 through February 2014, and then switched to Nexium from February 2013 to January 2015. As a result of the medications, the lawsuit alleges that Coleman developed chronic kidney disease (CKD) in July 2014, and was then diagnosed with acute renal failure in May 2015.
Nexium and Prilosec are two of the most widely used brand-name medications in the U.S., which are both part of a popular class of heartburn drugs known as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), which also includes Prevacid, Protonix, Dexilant and others. Several of the medications are now available as generics over-the-counter.
The lawsuit indicates that Coleman may have been able to avoid the kidney problems from Nexium and Prilosec if the pharmaceutical companies had not withheld and concealed important side effect information, and misrepresented that the drugs were safe to use every day.
“As a result of the defective nature of PPIs, persons who ingested this product, including Plaintiff, suffered and may continue to suffer from kidney injuries including acute interstitial nephritis (‘AIN’), acute kidney injuries (‘AKI’), chronic kidney disease (‘CKD’) and renal failure, also known as end-stage renal disease (‘ESRD’),” the lawsuit states. “Defendants concealed and continue to conceal their knowledge of PPIs’ unreasonably dangerous risks from Plaintiff, her physicians, other consumers, and the medical community. Specifically, Defendants failed to adequately inform consumers and the prescribing medical community about the magnified risk of kidney injuries related to the use of PPIs.”
The complaint joins dozens of other Nexium lawsuits, Prilosec lawsuits, Protonix lawsuits, Prevacid lawsuits and Dexilant lawsuits brought by individuals nationwide in recent months, claiming that the drug makers withheld information about the risks associated with long-term use of the medications.
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.
Nexium and Prilosec Kidney Risks
Since Nexium and other PPI drugs have lacked sufficient kidney warnings, 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, including CKD, acute interstitial nephritis (AIN), acute kidney injury (AKI) and end-stage renal failure.
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.
Earlier this month, 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, the complaint filed by Coleman, as well as other cases pending in courts nationwide, are moving forward as individual claims, without coordinated discovery.