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A small group of plaintiffs’ lawyers have been appointed to serve in various leadership roles in the recent consolidation established for all federal Nexium lawsuits, Prilosec lawsuits, Prevacid lawsuits and other claims involving kidney injuries associated with a class of heartburn medications known as proton pump inhibitors (PPI).
Earlier this month, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) centralized all complaints filed throughout the federal court system against the manufacturers of proton pump inhibitors, which each raise similar allegations that users were not adequately warned about the potential kidney side effects of the heart burn drugs.
Known as a federal MDL, or multidistrict litigation, there are currently more than 200 cases pending before U.S. District Judge Claire C. Cecchi in the District of New Jersey to reduce duplicative discovery into common issues, avoid conflicting pretrial rulings and serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the courts.
As heart burn drug lawyers continue to investigate and file additional cases in the coming months and years, it is ultimately expected that thousands of lawsuits will be included in the proton pump inhibitor MDL involving allegations that the popular drugs caused plaintiffs to suffer kidney failure, chronic kidney disease, acute interstitial nephritis, acute kidney injury and other forms of kidney damage.
In an order (PDF) issued on August 23, Judge Cecchi appointed a group of 21 different plaintiffs to serve in leadership roles, taking certain actions during discovery and MDL proceedings that will benefit all plaintiffs involved in the litigation. Two attorneys have been appointed to serve as plaintiff’s Co-Lead Counsel, seven to serve on a Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee, and 12 to serve on a Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee.
These lawyers will conduct and coordinate generic discovery, the exchange of information with the various drug manufacturers, present oral arguments to the court on pretrial matters and negotiate potential heartburn drug kidney injury settlement terms.
Nexium, Prilosec, Protonix and other PPI drugs are among some of the most widely used brand-name medications on the market in the United States, taken by millions to treat symptoms of heartburn and acid reflux. While many users and doctors believe the drugs carry few side effects, recent studies indicate that there may be serious kidney risks, which are not adequately disclosed on the label information.
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.
Lawyers involved in the heartburn drug litigation are scheduled to meet with Judge Cecci for an initial status conference on September 12.