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Hundreds of individuals nationwide are already currently pursuing Nexium cases, Prilosec cases, Prevacid cases or other lawsuits over kidney damage associated with a class of heartburn drugs known as proton pump inhibitors (PPI), according to status report submitted in advance of a conference held this morning before the U.S. District Judge recently appointed to preside over the federal litigation.
Proton Pump Inhibitors include some of the most widely recognized brand name medications on the market in the United States, and have been used by millions of Americans to treat symptoms of heartburn, acid reflux, ulcers and other gastrointestinal problems.
Following the publication of several studies that have linked side effects of PPI heartburn drugs to a risk of acute kidney injury, chronic kidney disease, kidney failure and other renal problems, a growing number of individuals nationwide are now pursuing product liability cases against AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Teva Pharmaceuticals and other manufacturers, each raising similar allegations that false and misleading information was provided about the potential risks associated with the medication.
Cases filed on behalf of nearly 400 plaintiffs have been brought in federal and state courts nationwide. However, as heartburn drug injury lawyers continue to review and file claims in the coming weeks and months, it is ultimately expected that thousands of lawsuits will be involved in the litigation.
Given similar questions of fact and law raised in the various PPI cases, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) established consolidated pretrial proceedings in the federal court system in late July, centralizing all lawsuits before U.S. District Judge Claire C. Cecchi in the District of New Jersey to reduce duplicative discovery, avoid conflicting pretrial rulings and to serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the courts.
In advance of a case management conference scheduled before Judge Cecchi this morning, the parties filed a joint report and agenda (PDF) that outlines the status of claims pending nationwide.
There are currently about 227 cases pending in the federal court system, involving 237 plaintiffs. However, another 162 cases are pending in state courts nationwide, with at least 130 in Delaware, 28 in Missouri and one action in Illinois with 4 plaintiffs.
The report also outlines the parties intention to address a number of issues with Judge Cecchi, including the status of discovery and fact sheets, a direct filing order, a suggested schedule for proceedings, how to coordinate the multidistrict litigation (MDL) with Delaware state court proceedings, as well as how pending motions to dismiss filed in a number of cases will be addressed.
As part of the coordinated MDL proceedings, it is expected that small groups of cases involving Nexium, Prilosec, Protonix and other PPI medications will eventually be selected for a series of early “bellwether” trials, which are designed to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that may be repeated throughout the litigation. However, if the parties fail to negotiate settlements or another resolution, each of the individual cases may eventually be remanded back to various U.S. District Courts nationwide in the future for separate trial dates.