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According to allegations raised in a product liability lawsuit recently filed against AstraZeneca and Merck, side effects of Nexium resulted in the development of stomach cancer for a Georgia man.
Daniel Hudson filed the complaint (PDF) in the U.S. District Court for New Jersey on April 30, alleging that the popular acid reflux and heartburn medication increases the risk of gastric cancer, yet the drug makers failed to provide adequate warnings to consumers or the medical community.
According to the lawsuit, the link between Nexium and stomach cancer should have been anticipated as early as the late 1980s, with AstraZeneca ignoring ref flags. Rather than warning about the gastric cancer risk, the drug makers aggressively marketed Nexium, making it one of the most widely used brand-name medications on the market.
“When warning of the safety and risks of esomeprazole, Defendants negligently represented to the medical, healthcare, regulatory community, the Plaintiff’s prescribing and treating physicians, and the public in general, that esomeprazole had been tested and found to be safe and/or effective for its indicated use in treating peptic disorders,” the lawsuit states. “Defendants concealed their knowledge of esomeprazole’s defects, specifically the fact that it causes clinically significant hypergastrinemia and gastric cancer, from Plaintiff’s treating physicians, hospitals, pharmacies, the public in general and/or the medical and regulatory community.”
Hudson’s case will likely be centralized as part of a federal multidistrict litigation (MDL), which currently includes more than 10,300 Nexium lawsuits, Prilosec lawsuits, Prevacid lawsuits, Protonix lawsuits, Dexilant lawsuits and other claims against the makers of PPI drugs. Most of the pending claims involve allegations that the drugs caused kidney problems, but a growing number of stomach cancer lawsuits are also being filed.
In December 2013, a study published in the medical journal Gut indicated there was a link between proton pump inhibitors and gastric cancer, finding that long-term use of drugs like Nexium may double the risk.
An association was previously suspected, particularly among individuals with Helicobacter pylori (HP) infections. However, the study found that the increased risk remained even after patients received HP infection treatment.
As part of the coordinated pretrial proceedings in the federal MDL, a small group of injury lawsuits are being prepared for a series of early trial dates, which are expected to begin in late 2020. As more Nexium stomach cancer cases are brought in the coming months and years, it is likely that a separate “bellwether” process may be established to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that may be repeated throughout a number of claims.