Nexium, Prilosec, Similar Heartburn Drugs Linked to Increased Antimicrobial Resistant Bacteria, Study Finds

Use of Nexium, Prilosec and similar heartburn drugs was linked to a nearly 50% increased risk of developing a drug-treatment resistant infection, researchers found.

A new study suggests that the side effects of Nexium, Prilosec, Prevacid and similar heartburn drugs may increase the risk of acquiring a drug-resistant infection.

Researchers from The Netherlands say that they have found an association between the popular class of medications, known as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), and acquiring extended-spectrum β-lactamase (ESBL)– or carbapenemase-producing Enterobacterales, according to a report published last week in the medical journal JAMA Network Open.

PPIs are designed to reduce the amount of acid in the stomach, treating gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), as well as heartburn, ulcers in the stomach and small intestines, and inflammation of the esophagus. In addition to Nexium, Prilosec and Prevacid, the class also includes the brand name medications Protonix, Zegerid, AcipHex, Dexilant and Vimovo, as well as a number of generic equivalents.

While the drugs have been promoted for years as safe and effective, leading many to believe they carry few serious side effects, the manufacturers have faced thousands of Nexium lawsuitsProtonix lawsuitsPrilosec lawsuitsPrevacid lawsuits  and claims over the failure to warn about side effects of PPIs, in which plaintiffs allege they have been left with acute kidney injury, chronic kidney disease, end-stage renal failure and other unexpected health problems.

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Researchers conducted this latest study to follow up on prior reports that PPIs have been linked with colonization of drug-resistant bacteria. However, it was not known if other factors were at play in causing the infections.

To assess whether there was a link between the heartburn drugs and bacteria, researchers conducted a case-control study involving 2,239 adults between December 31, 2018, and January 6, 2021. The researchers looked for patients who had newly detected ESBL infections, and looked to see who had been users of drugs like Nexium and Prilosec.

According to the findings, use of PPIs was linked to a nearly 50% increased risk of ESBL infections. Researchers also found that laxatives and antibiotics were independently linked to more than double the risk of such infections as well.

“In this study, after careful control for confounding and sensitivity analysis, PPI use was associated with an increased risk of acquiring ESBL- or carbapenemase-producing Enterobacterales among adult hospitalized patients,” the researchers concluded. “These findings emphasize the need for judicious use of PPIs.”

March 2023 Nexium Lawsuit Update

Thousands of heartburn drug lawsuits involving kidney damage have brought throughout the federal court system, and the litigation has been centralized before U.S. District Judge Claire C. Cecchi in New Jersey since late 2019, as part of an MDL or multi-district litigation.

In September, Judge Cecchi ordered the parties to engage in a Nexium settlement conference with GlaxoSmithKline, to explore a potential resolution of the litigation before the first bellwether trial, which is slated to begin this year. That mediation session with a Special Master was followed by additional settlement talks with makers of Prilosec, Protonix and other PPI drugs, including representatives of AstraZeneca and Merck on September 30, Pfizr on October 19, Proctor & Gamble on October 20, and Takeda and Abbott on October 21, 2022.

The outcome of this attempt to settle Nexium kidney damages has not been publicly disclosed by the Court, but it appears likely that a delay in the start of the first bellwether trial provided additional time for the parties to determine whether any global settlement or resolution can be reached to resolve large numbers of cases.

Following the initial bellwether trials, Judge Cecchi has also had the parties select a second group of 20 cases that are being prepared for trials, and two large waves of 100 lawsuits each were selected for case-specific discovery in April 2022.

If a settlement is not reached in the coming weeks, the first Nexium kidney damage bellwether trial is expected to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout the litigation. However, following the subsequent trials later this year, if the parties still have not made progress settling claims, Judge Cecchi may start remanding individual cases back to U.S. District Courts nationwide for individual trials.

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